who invented tea bags

who invented tea bags

The Invention of Tea Bags

Tea bags are a familiar part of the tea-drinking ritual. But who actually invented tea bags and when?

Early History of Tea Bags

The history of tea bags dates back to the early 1900s when tea merchant Thomas Sullivan of New York City began selling small samples of tea in small silken bags. His customers were supposed to remove the tea from the bag and brew it. But some customers mistakenly steeped the entire bag, thus inadvertently inventing the modern-day tea bag.

Commercialization of Tea Bags

Manufacturers capitalized on this accidental invention and began to produce tea bags for commercial use in the early 1920s. The tea bags at first were made of hand-sewn fabric. Cotton paper with a mesh base was introduced in the 1930s, and eventually the mesh paper became the standard for commercial tea bags. In 1980, the first pyramid-shaped tea bags were introduced.

Advantages of Tea Bags

Some advantages of tea bags include:

  • Convenience: Tea bags are a quick and easy way to make a cup of tea.
  • Portability: Tea bags can be easily taken with you when you’re in a hurry or on the go.
  • Time Savings: Tea bags do not require the tea to be pre-measured, as with traditional loose-leaf tea.


In conclusion, tea bags were introduced inadvertently by customers of Thomas Sullivan of New York City in the early 1900s. Tea bags were commercialized in the early 1920s, made of hand-sewn fabric and eventually cotton paper with a mesh base. Pyramid-shaped tea bags were introduced in 1980. Tea bags offer convenience, portability and time savings.


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