Tea bag

Tea bag

A tea bag is a small, porous paper, silk or nylon sealed bag containing tea leaves for brewing tea. The bag contains the tea leaves while the tea is brewed, making it easier to dispose of the leaves, and performing the same function as a tea infuser. Some tea bags have an attached piece of string with a paper label to the top that assists in removing the bag while also identifying the variety of tea.

In countries where the use of loose tea leaves is more prevalent, the term tea bag is commonly used to describe a paper or foil wrapper packaging for loose leaves. They are usually square or rectangular envelopes with the brand name and flavour printed on them, as well as interesting decorative patterns.


The first tea bags were made from hand-sewn silk muslin bags and tea bag patents of this sort exist dating as early as 1903. First appearing commercially around 1904, tea bags were successfully marketed by tea and coffee shop merchant Thomas Sullivan from New York, who shipped his tea bags around the world. Modern tea bags are usually made of paper fiber.The heat-sealed paper fiber tea bag was invented by William HermansonFact|date=May 2008, one of the founders of Technical Papers Corporation of BostonFact|date=May 2008. Hermanson sold his patent to the Salada Tea Company in 1930Fact|date=May 2008.


Tea bag paper is related to paper found in milk and coffee filters. It is made with a blend of wood and vegetable fibers. The vegetable fiber is bleached pulp abaca hemp, a small plantation tree grown for the fiber, mostly in the Philippines and Colombia. Heat-sealed tea bag paper usually has a heat-sealable thermoplastic such as PVC or polypropylene, as a component fiber on inner side of the tea bag surface.

Tea bag shapes

Traditionally, tea bags have been square or rectangular in shape. More recently circular and pyramidal bags have come on the market, and are often claimed by the manufacturers to improve the quality of the brew. This claim, however, only holds with a proper preparation. Certainly preparations of tea with a tea bag in a cup often results in poor infusion time.Fact|date=October 2007

A practical observation in the development of the tea bag from the traditional square, to the circular and finally the pyramidal bags is that the amount of adhesive used to seal the bags is reduced in each development, It could therefore be surmised that the development is not to improve the quality of the brew, but to reduce the cost of producing the bags themselves.

Empty tea bags are also available for consumers to fill with tea leaves themselves. These are typically an open-ended pouch with a long flap. The pouch is filled with an appropriate quantity of leaf tea and the flap is closed into the pouch to retain the tea. The resulting tea bag combines the ease of use of a commercially-produced tea bag with the wider tea choice and better quality control of loose leaf tea.

Because of the convenience of tea bags, a wide variety of herbs can be purchased as "tea bag cut", a grade which is specified in terms of the particle size, typically with the bulk of the leaves around 1 - 1.5 mm.

The nylon pyramidal tea bag containing tea leaf fragments instead of the tea 'detritus" or dust made an appearance in the marketplace for aficionados. The pyramidal shape allows more room for the leaf to steep. Environmentalists prefer silk to nylon because of health and biodegradability issues. [cite news
last = Fabricant
first = Florence
title = Tea’s Got a Brand New Bag
work = The New York Times
publisher = The New York Times Company
date = September 13, 2006
url = http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/13/dining/13tea.html?_r=1&oref=slogin&pagewanted=print
accessdate =

Disposable tea stick

A more recent variation on the tea bag is the disposable tea stick, in which the tea bag is designed in the form of a stick to be used both for stirring and infusing the tea. Disposable tea sticks are made either of a rigid material such as porous foil, or of softer material such as cloth with a thin stick inside to reinforce it.


A well-produced tea bag, with enough space for the tea to infuse properly, is a convenient alternative to loose leaves. However, cheap tea bags may contain poor quality tea — small, dusty leaves from many different sources ('floor sweepings') that tend to release tannin quicker, making the tea taste harsh.Fact|date=October 2007

Some tea drinkers claim that loose leaves brew a superior cup of tea, and believe that the ritual of handling the leaves is part of the experience of tea.fact|date=June 2008


The concept of pre-measured portions to be infused in disposable bags has also been applied to coffee, although this has not achieved such wide market penetration (similar to the market penetration of instant tea as compared to instant coffee).

Other uses for tea bags

Decorative tea bags have become the basis for large collections, and also for the hobby of tea bag folding. Begun in the Netherlands, and often credited to Tiny van der Plas, tea bag folding is a form of origami in which identical squares of patterned paper (cut from the front of tea bag sachets) are folded, and then arranged in rosettes. These rosettes are usually used to decorate gift cards and it has become a popular craft in both the US and UK since 2000. [ [http://britton.disted.camosun.bc.ca/jbteabagtiles.htm Tea bag folding] ]


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