How tea bags have evolved over the years

Convenience and flavour influence the evolution of tea bags. From pyramid tea
bags to cube-shaped tea bags, the experience of consuming private label tea
packaged in tea bags is enriched.

Sanjiv Roy
Created by Sanjiv Roy Aug 24, 2020

How tea bags have evolved over the years

Tea bags have undergone several improvements over the decades. The first tea
bag, made of hand-sewn silk, carried whole leaf tea inside. But contemporary tea
bags, for private label tea, are made of bleached paper fiber with heat-sealable
plastic material. 
Accidental find 

Instead of removing the whole leaf tea from the silk tea bags for brewing,
consumers began brewing the tea inside the bag. When they placed orders
again, they wanted it packaged in tea bags. Tea manufacturers continued with
this trend as it was less expensive than packaging and shipping tea in tins and
Evolved over time
Hand-sewn silk tea bags were expensive to produce so the search for a cheaper
alternative began. In the 1920s, gauze material was found to be a viable
substitute and the commercial production of tea bags commenced. Various
versions of tea bags were introduced over the decades for private label tea but
a revolutionary change occurred in 1997 when the pyramid tea bag emerged as
a better replacement. Unlike flat tea bags, this one provided more room for tea
leaves to unfurl inside and release more flavour in the cup. 

Machine driven production

With the rising popularity of tea bags in the global market, tea producers
searched for cost-cutting options and explored the scope to ramp up bulk
production. As consumers showed a preference for convenience instead of
quality, commercial tea manufacturers switched to a machine-driven CTC
process to meet the growing demand for tea bags. Sealed with plastic or glue,
stapled with tags, or packaged with strings, tea bags began to dominate the
commercial scene.  

Pyramid-shaped tea bags 
Combining convenience and curbing wastage are the twin objectives behind
constantly improving the tea bag technology. New eco-friendly private label tea
bags made of unbleached, chemical-free compostable materials – to retain
freshness and flavour – are now available in the market. Organic, whole leaf teas
packaged in private label tea bags made of single-serving corn silk are
preferred because the pyramid tea bags are large and spacious to provide the
fresh tea leaves adequate space to mix with hot water to extract the full flavour.
Several cups of tea from a single tea bag are possible as it can be steeped
multiple times.

Round-shaped tea bags

Customers seeking a blend of convenience and strong flavour are offered tea in
round, unbleached tea bags made of paper. It releases the flavour of a full-
bodied tea as fresh, organic and fine-cut tea leaves are packaged inside, making
the brew stronger than what a pyramid tea bag offers.

Tea bags have evolved from being just an option for dust and low-quality
fannings. The much denigrated tea bag has become a preferred choice
for private label tea and this is a coming of age tale filled with surprises. Tea
lovers are less likely to believe that a tea bag cannot offer the best quality. Unlike
commercial tea bags filled with low-grade, shredded tea leaves and tea
dust, private label tea relies heavily on tea bags and the popularity is likely to
grow further.

Cube-shaped tea bags

Appearance suggests this option provides more room for water to circulate
among tea leaves – more than what pyramid tea bags and other gourmet tea
bags provide. These bags allow for a better grade of tea and improved steeping
is common in private label tea.  

Tea bags have hit the right chord with tea lovers because these are easy to
carry. This allows absolute ease to those who find the process of making tea
quite cumbersome. Whether they sip it alone or with family, the cup of tea in the
morning or the evening introduces them to another level of evolution of tea bags.