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Tea bag: a brief history

A tea bag is something that most people do not think about, something that is familiar and everyday. But have you ever wondered how the tea bag came to be? The tea bag has been around for over 100 years, but we don’t know exactly how it came about. There are two main stories in the world of tea that claim to be the origin story of the tea bag.

Lawon and Molaren

In 1901, two women named Roberta Lawson and Mary Molaren of Milwaukee applied for a patent. This patent was called “tea leaf holder”. Their main goal was to create a product that would allow the user to put as much tea into it as is required for one cup of tea. This new way of brewing tea was supposed to help get rid of waste and make cleaning easier.

When creating the bag, Lawson and Molaren pursued two more goals. Firstly, the bag had to hold the tea leaves together so they didn’t fall into the mouth, and secondly, the bag had to be tight yet loose enough to allow water to brew the tea through.

Their end product was a sewn mesh bag that did just that, allowing tea to be brewed in one go.


The second story took place seven years later, in 1908. An American tea importer named Thomas Sullivan created a random tea bag.

Sullivan began sending out samples of his tea in silk bags, but did not expect his customers to brew tea in them.

His clients themselves began to brew tea samples directly in hot water in this way and began to ask that all tea be sent to them in this way.

Sullivan began to fulfill the requests of his customers and eventually switched to shipping tea in gauze. He found that the silk was too thin for optimal brewing.