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As you take three seconds to grab a tea pouch and drop it into the tea pot, you wonder how people brewed tea in ancient China. Did they also use a pouch to brew their tea in? Actually, the tea pouch is a fairly new invention. The history of tea brewing actually needs to give a great deal of credit to a man who simply wanted to save on shipping costs.
In ancient China, tea was first brewed by simply dropping leaves into a pot of hot water and then straining off the beverage. Someone decided it would be easier to work with a powdered tea around 1000 A.D. and crushed his leaves into fine particles. However, powdered tea didn't remain popular for long. Soon, people were turning whole leaves into the loose tea that we still see today.
Of course, storing loose tea is a challenge. Tins are usually used to hold the tea so it stays fresh and clean. However, if a tin that isn't closed properly gets knocked off a shelf, the tea is often lost when the tin hits the floor. Tins are also not the easiest containers to open. Prying off the lid, scooping out the proper amount of tea, placing the leaves in your pot and then straining the tea into a cup can be frustrating, too.
The solution to easy tea storage and brewing came about when Thomas Sullivan decided to send tea samples to potential customers in little bags instead of tins. Tea bags caught on quickly because they were convenient to use and easy to store.
Today, there are some new innovations, such as the tea pouch, that continue to improve the tea brewing process.