Kat strives to drink as much loose leaf tea as possible, but she also has space in her cupboard for bagged teas. Many bagged teas can contain high quality tea, and are easy for on-the-go use. Kat keeps a few tea bags stashed in her purse at all times. She never wants to be without her favorite teas. It’s never fun to drink a poor quality tea, so she always ensures she has plenty to spare.
There seems to be differing stories as to how the tea bag was invented. Many folks believe that it started in 1908 when Thomas Sullivan, an American tea importer sent loose leaf samples out in silk pouches, and the recipients plopped the whole pouch in the water to steep instead of removing the leaves first. They liked this method so much that they asked for more. But it appears that there is a patent filed in 1901 by Roberta Lawson and Mary Molaren in Milwaukee for something that appears to be very similar to the modern tea bag. They called it a ‘tea-leaf holder’ and was a ‘pocket-like device’ made out of mesh fabric. Using this holder only a smaller amount of tea would be used for one cup, instead of wasting larger quantities of tea making a whole pot that the tea drinker may not finish. This brought an easy, mess-free solution to tea making. After years of experimenting with different fabrics, paper teabags became popular.
The sack style of tea bag was in use until about 1944 when the rectangle became popular. You can of course still find two types of rectangle bags- the ones with a tag and the ones without. Not much changed until the late 80s/early 90s when round teabags were introduced by Tetley (who invented the round bag is also in dispute). It seems that this style wasn’t much of an improvement, but more of an aesthetic change. The pyramid shape was later invented by Brooke Bond. The shape gives the tea leaves more room to expand. Teabags now also come in a few different materials. They can be paper, cotton, gauze, nylon, silk, or biodegradable cornstarch. Phew, dearies is that enough choice for you?
For me, I believe that you should enjoy the tea, and not worry what type of bag it comes in. Kat has recently started drinking a few pyramid shaped teabags from HEB. She picks a few up every time she visits her favorite cousin in Texas. Her favorite right now is the Mango Black. The robust, malty black tea base is accented with a subtle, sweet mango flavor. It’s a warm tropical breeze amidst this frigid winter weather. She enjoys this decaffeinated tea in the late afternoon as a warming sip after coming out of the cold, and as an evening relaxer. The pyramid tea bags have plenty of room for the leaves to expand, and are the perfect size for Kat’s favorite large mug that she wraps both hands around.
If you’re looking for the ease of a tea bag but would like to use your own loose leaf teas, how about using disposable DIY filter bags? These are large empty tea bags that have an open flap, so you can fill them with your own tea, and then close and brew. Kat keeps these around the house for iced teas. The bags are quite large, and she can put as much leaf as she needs for a whole pitcher. It infuses the tea the same way a traditional tea bag does. These disposable bags can be found in most grocery and health food stores.
Whatever shape you choose, you’re sure to get a delicious cup of tea. Do you have a teabag shape preference? I’d love to know!