who invented tea bags

who invented tea bags

The Invention of the Tea Bag

The tea bag may seem like an obvious and essential part of the tea drinking experience, but did you know that this convenient way of brewing a cup of tea was only invented a little over a century ago?

History of Tea Bags

Despite the long standing relationship between humans and tea, which dates back to 2700 BC, the first modern tea bag was not invented until 1908 in the USA by Thomas Sullivan who is considered to be the father of the tea bag.

Sullivan, a coffee and tea merchant, speculated that customers would enjoy the convenience of its use, and decided to ship samples of his tea in small silken bags to a few of his clients. Interestingly, the samples were intended to be emptied from the bags and used to brew a cup of tea.

But Sullivan’s clients were so taken by the convenience of simply dunking the small bags of tea right into the water, that they began to make requests for tea in bags instead of loose form! Sullivan smartly began selling tea this way and his invention became popular very quickly.

Modern Tea Bags

While the modern tea bag looks drastically different from Sullivan’s original invention, it serves the same purpose and is used in just the same way. Today’s tea bags are typically made of nontoxic biodegradable paper or food-grade plastic and are filled with much finer particles of tea, making them easier to infuse.

The modern tea bag industry continues to innovate, offering various shapes, sizes, infuser devices and filter materials.

Key Takeaways

  • Thomas Sullivan was the inventor of the modern tea bag, which he created in 1908.
  • The tea bag is made of durable fabric, paper or food-grade plastic and is filled with finer particles of tea.
  • Today, the tea bag industry continues to innovate and provide increasingly convenient options to tea enthusiasts.


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