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It’s been a while since I’ve been a student, so I don’t know what the curricula is like these days. But there was a time when anyone who had passed from the hallowed halls of elementary school had a fairly thorough grounding in that famous incident in American history – the Boston Tea Party. You know the story, of course. Colonists dress as what we used to call Indians and storm ships in Boston Harbor, dumping tea into the drink as a protest against unfair taxation and whatnot.

Black teas too good to throw overboard! (ETS image)

Black teas too good to throw overboard! (ETS image)

Or so the story goes. Of course, the popular and commonly accepted versions of history are not always one and the same (George Washington and the cherry tree, anyone?) and apparently that’s the case with the Boston Tea Party. Here are a few of the alleged myths that might need some debunking.

Author Ray Raphael has written a book that claims to debunk various myths about the founding of the United States. He takes on some Boston Tea Party myths here. For starters, he asserts that not all colonists celebrated the event and many actually viewed the dumping of the tea as an unsavory act of vandalism that might hurt their cause. No thoughts on what was made of the wastefulness of 340 chests of tea being dumped into the harbor, but speaking as a modern-day tea drinker I always find that aspect a bit unsettling.

Another myth that most people probably aren’t aware of is that tea taxes had actually been reduced around this time. So the rebellion was not about high taxes but rather the fact that colonists didn’t have any say in taxes that were levied on them. As the author notes, land taxes as well as those on the likes of sugar, molasses, and wine were much more significant. Taxes on tea were comparatively modest, and even if they hadn’t been, there was a brisk smuggling trade for anyone who was out for a bargain.

Some time ago I wrote about the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum. Which is pretty much what the name suggests. But since this site is devoted to tea I wanted to reiterate, as I mentioned in that article, which types of tea were tossed in the harbor on that fateful day a few centuries ago, “the three tea ships contained 240 chests of Bohea, 15 of Congou, 10 of Souchong (all black teas), 60 of Singlo, and 15 of Hyson (both green teas).”

At the attraction’s very own web site they take on some Boston Tea Party myths as well. Look here for a video in which “noted Revolutionary War scholar” Professor Benjamin L. Carp attempts to straighten a few misconceptions.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A great tea from India: Darjeeling (ETS Image)

A great tea from India: Darjeeling (ETS Image)

So which great people throughout history drank tea and which did not? This is hardly the place to do an in-depth review of the topic, but we can be pretty sure about the tea drinking habits – or lack thereof – of certain great historical figures based on where and when they lived. It’s likely that Julius Caesar, Charlemagne, and William the Conqueror never drank tea, simply because they lived in Europe long before tea is known to have been introduced there.

Then there are those historical types whom we might expect to be tea lovers but who weren’t. Take Gandhi, for instance, who lived in India, a country that by the time he lived was already a powerhouse of tea production. Though Gandhi was once a tea drinker, he came to believe that tea was an intoxicant and that the tannins it contained were bad for health. Thus he gave it up. Take a look at his tea-free ginger lemon alternative at his grandson’s web site.

Another great head of state, Winston Churchill, apparently was not all that enamored of tea either, according to the National Churchill Museum, who claim that he avoided it. He tended to forego that time-honored ritual of afternoon tea and apparently preferred to drink something with a little more of a kick than tea.

Like the English, the Russians were hardly slouches when it came to tea drinking and even gave the world a tea prep gadget known as the samovar. So perhaps it’s not surprising that Russian dictator Vladimir Lenin was a tea drinker. As a contemporary biography recalls, black bread, tea, and porridge was a common meal for Lenin and in the those early violent days of the revolution he often drank his tea without sugar as a measure of solidarity with the rest of the population.

Then there are our presidents. As this page on presidential eating habits recounts, tea and coffee were served at breakfast in the household of our first president, while Jefferson apparently bought some of a tea he sampled in Amsterdam to take back home. Mary Lincoln is known to have served tea and cakes to her guests while Rutherford B. Hayes mixed it up, with a cup of coffee at breakfast and one of tea at lunch. As for Honest Abe Lincoln, one legend recounts that when he was a storekeeper in his early days, he walked a great distance just to make a customer’s tea order right.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A cuppa Earl Grey White tea in a Delft blue mug. The Dutch still influence our tea time! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

A cuppa Earl Grey White tea in a Delft blue mug. The Dutch still influence our tea time! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

We’ve all heard of the Boston Tea Party, but tea came to the Western hemisphere long before that. Time to follow that trail and see just when tea was brought here and by whom.

Once upon a time (some say as long as 5,000 years ago), a studier of plants in China was boiling some water when some leaves from a nearby bush/tree (it varies, depending on the source of the tale) fell into his open pot (sort of like the “billy” those swagmen use in Australia). He let the water continue boiling and then decided to chance it and drink the liquid. Voilà! A beverage was born… or so the legend of Shen Nong goes. Whatever the real beginnings of this heavenly infusion, it took until the early 1600s for tea to reach Europe.

In 1492, a mere 4500 +/- years later, Europeans found that there was another continent between them and China when Columbus decided to sail straight West instead of the route around Africa that took so long. He was trying to find a shorter trade route. Many folks still thought the Earth was flat and that they would surely sail off the edge. His adventure was considered a big risk and rather foolish. However, his ships bumped into some islands off our Eastern Coast. More Europeans followed and established colonies, still not knowing about the wonders of tea.

A souvenir from the Amsterdam airport! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

A souvenir from the Amsterdam airport! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Fast forward to 1560 A.D. when a humble Portuguese missionary named Jasper de Cruz encountered tea in person and wrote about it, the first European to do so. He brought tea to the attention of his countrymen in Portugal, and soon tea was shipping regularly to Lisbon.

Around 1610 the Dutch from the Netherlands, which at the time was the world’s most successful seafaring nation, got into the act, using their ships to bring tea not only to their own country but also France and the Baltic countries. The tea was rather expensive, though, by the standards of that time (about $100 per pound) and was thus much more the beverage of the wealthy. [One source said that the first tea arrived in Amsterdam in Holland in 1606 and was “the first known cargo of tea to be registered at a western port.”]

The year 1647 is the one set by some historians for Dutchman Peter Stuyvesant bringing tea to the Western hemisphere for the first time. He had travelled to New Amsterdam (the main Dutch settlement that is now New York City) to be its governor and brought that precious tea with him. True tea dedication when every item of cargo was given careful consideration. However, tea was still quite a pricey commodity at this time due to the expense of bringing it in those ships from the tea merchants in China to market in Europe.

In 1664, the British took over the settlement and renamed it New York. They found that despite the high price, tea drinking had caught on and the settlement consumed more tea than all the rest of England combined.

Around 1675 A.D., the price of tea in Europe was dropping as the beverage grew in popularity and became more available, especially in food shops in the Netherlands and France. Tea had become a way of life, with people in those two countries outpacing other Europeans in tea consumption.

In 1682 William Penn founded Philadelphia and he along with his fellow sober Quakers started a new market for “the cups that cheer but not inebriate.”

In the 1730s the price in New York and elsewhere in the Western hemisphere was brought down by the introduction of sleek, fast clipper ships that could get that tea across the oceans more quickly. But taxation on the tea, which was now under the monopolized control of the East India Company of England, was becoming a major offset to that lower transportation cost. In the mid 1700s, the Dutch aided revolutionaries in America, smuggling a steady supply of tea past the English.

Now we come to 1773 where the East India Company, with large stockpiles of unsold tea, got the British government to pass the Tea Act of 1773 so that the tea could be sold to the colonists without the tax, effectively undercutting both local tea merchants and smugglers. Neither group was happy about this, obviously, since they couldn’t similarly use government to their benefit. A boycott was declared, but a few port officials who were either very pro-British or really ardent tea lovers let some ships land and unload their tea cargo. On December 16th that tea got a dunking in the harbor waters and sparked a call for independence.

Fast forward this time to today, tea is plentiful and relatively cheap. The varieties in terms of flavorings, types, and styles are even wider. And to think that it all started with the Dutch!

See also: Tea Traditions — The Netherlands

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Americans have probably consumed more black tea than any other kind over the course of the past few decades. But one of the more interesting facts I’ve run across in the years I’ve been writing about tea is that in earlier times we probably downed as much green tea as the black kind or perhaps even more.

Which is an interesting tidbit about green tea and history and I thought I’d set out to see what other ones I could find. A certain vast online archive might not contain every book every written, but it’s got a bunch and I thought it might a good place to dig up a few interesting facts on green tea throughout history.

One of the earliest references to green tea in said archive appears in 1706, in volume eight of The History of the Works of the Learned, Or, An Impartial Account of Books Lately Printed in All Parts of Europe also seen here. Many of these early references discuss green tea’s health benefits – or lack thereof, depending on who’s discussing. This one claims that it is a good diuretic and “Stomachtick” and also credits it with getting the blood going.

A few years later, in a work titled The British Apollo, or, Curious Amusements for the Ingenious, “Green-Tea” is said to help the suppression of urine. Whether that’s a good thing or not is hard to say. In a 1712 medical tome, the claim is put forth that green tea is a remedy for something or other, though it wasn’t quite clear to yours truly what ailment it was supposed to help. Here’s yet another such book, from 1724, which claims that green tea, with marshmallow root and licorice, serves to open up the lungs and acts as a diuretic.

Turning from the medical advice for a moment, we find John Nutt’s 1712 Asia is One Volume, with Thirty One Maps, Sanson’s Tables, &c. as May be Seen in the Catalogue Thereof Annex’d to the Preface, which takes a fairly in-depth look at Chinese tea. Nutt includes a brief description of green tea and provides a few strategies (including chewing it) for determining the quality. A similar description appeared a year earlier, in An Account of the Trade in India, by Charles Lockyer, along with two other mentions of green tea. Of course India wasn’t involved in the tea trade at the time but as nearly as I can tell Lockyer’s notion of what constitutes India is a little broader that what we know today.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Jonas Hanway's complete book where the essay on tea appears

Jonas Hanway's complete book where the essay on tea appears

It’s probably not surprising that so many English commentators of yesteryear felt compelled to pick up a pen and share their thoughts about tea. After all, tea was a relative newcomer to their island nation, only turning up in the middle portion of the seventeenth century and not really hitting it big for at least another half century after that.

Opinions among these commentators tended to be rather mixed, if the truth be told. While some of them did everything short of running through the streets (tea) drunkenly singing the praises of tea, there were probably just as many who felt that it was a vile substance that, if left unchecked, would contribute to the breakdown of law and order and the end of humanity as we know it.

We could safely put Jonas Hanway (1712 – 1786) in this latter category, at least based on the thoughts he expressed in his 1757 An Essay on Tea. The piece is actually part of a larger work, a two-volume book that he published in that same year, called A Journal of Eight Days Journey from Portsmouth to Kingston Upon Thames.

Hanway, if we’re to believe Wikipedia, was an “English traveller and philanthropist” and was apparently the “first Londoner, it is said, to carry an umbrella.” The unwieldy title of his diatribe on tea, excerpted from the even more unwieldy full title of the book, gives a pretty good indication of his not so complimentary opinions about tea, An Essay On Tea, Considered As Pernicious To Health, Obstructing Industry, And Impoverishing The Nation: With An Account Of Its Growth And Great Consumption In These Kingdoms.

The author devotes no small amount of his work to detailing the assorted and sundry evils that tea had already wrought in England. Among the various maladies he blames on its consumption are distempers, scurvy and weak nerves, just to name a few.

Today, tea is more popular than ever!

Today, tea is more popular than ever!

Though Hanway’s dry writing style doesn’t exactly make this a book that you’ll want to take to the beach, at least one of his contemporaries read enough of it to get his back up and write a lively rebuttal. That would be the infamous Samuel Johnson, who was proud to be a self-proclaimed “hardened and shameless tea-drinker.” More on his throwdown with Hanway in this article, which includes a link to the review he wrote of Hanway’s book.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

I come across many tea books as I peruse the shelves at book stores and libraries, where I spend a great deal of my free time. Many of them are redundant, but this book is not one of them. The Story of Tea by Mary Lou and Robert J. Heiss is one of the most informative and comprehensive tea texts that I have ever come across. The authors are owners of a tea shop and have devoted their life to the pursuit of knowledge of all things tea.

The Story of Tea

The history section goes far beyond the usual leaves falling into the emperor’s cup story, tracing the history of tea not only in China but also in Tibet and into the West. But it was the manufacturing section that really sold me on this book. The authors go into great detail explaining each and every step of the process to make all of the varieties of the world’s tea, as well as the cultivation of the tea bush. Don’t believe me? Eighty pages on this topic, all of them fabulously interesting.

The book also discusses the different tea growing regions in far more detail than the encyclopedic entries in many tea books. Later on there is an encyclopedia of tea, nearly a book unto itself. And if you thought you knew everything there was to know about brewing the perfect cuppa, there are twenty pages of information on that particular subject. I even found some new information on those pages, but I’ll leave those to you to discover. There are also interesting sections on tea cultures around the world.

At the end of the book, there is one section about the health benefits of tea and another about cooking with tea. With the extensive bibliography in the back, I believe that the section on health and caffeine is one of the most accurate that I have seen. There are many misconceptions about tea and caffeine, and the authors make sure to address all of the factors that go into the caffeine content of your cup of tea. The section on tea ethics should be read by all tea drinkers, and some of the recipes are quite original.

Visit Stephanie Hanson’s blog, The Tea Scoop, for more great articles!

Tea. Lovely tea. As a long time fan of camellia sinensis, I’ve more tea than any sane person should have, stashed away in a large cabinet at home – everything from delicate white teas and sticky sweet matcha to smooth-as-silk darjeelings and it-tastes-like-dirt lapsang suchan. Every morning I have a cup to start my day.

Tea in Switzerland

Tea in Switzerland

But what about when I’m on vacation? How does one have that “tea experience” on the road? And where can I get my fix, uh, cuppa? It turns out that tea while traveling can be part of the vacation experience itself with very little effort.

Taking your favorite tea with you is an obvious first step. A tin, small toiletries bag or a simple zip-lock baggie filled with bagged teas (and don’t forget sweeteners if that’s a must for your enjoyment of the brew) should be in every tea lover’s carry-on luggage. (It’s in my carry-on. And I’m not weird. Mostly.) While baggies of tea won’t have to be brought out at security checkpoints, do be aware that if you – like a certain someone – stuff your carry-on full of tins of various loose leaf teas and several of those really nifty Chinese teas tied up in dried husks that you found in that cool tea shop, you will likely get pulled over and have your luggage rifled through.

Finding places to drink tea while traveling is the obvious next step. From traditional tea houses in Azerbaijan to a café by the Mediterranean in Greece, tea isn’t hard to find when traveling outside of the U.S. Take some time to learn a few words in the local language so you can read a menu and discern the green teas from the black teas. While in Switzerland I found I often had the choice of “tea for one” (one to three cups worth) or a largish pot fit for a small group of people. Take a look around and see what others are having with their tea and be brave. Be bold! Have some of that scrumptious looking cake. I found that a cup of tea and some of the local pastries went a long way towards perking up my traveling companion and I in the afternoon. Two of the most memorable places I’ve been to on recent vacations:

The Dushanbe Tea House, Boulder, Colorado. On 13th Street, within walking distance of great shopping, this teahouse was built in partnership with Boulder’s sister city, Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

Heini’s Tearoom, Lucerne, Switzerland. On Falkenplatz, at the corner of Old Town, the pastry choices here are overwhelming and the people-watching is fantastic.

Tea Room Abroad

Confiserie Tea Room in Basel, Switzerland

But it’s not just about drinking tea. It’s also about shopping for tea. In some places you can find specialty stores filled with a wide assortment to choose from. On the same trip to Switzerland I found that these shops were often a visually spectacular combination of tea and spices. Ordinary home decorating stores can wear out your credit card as well – European stores tend to have many more tea-related items to choose from than is commonly available in the U.S. Sexy tea paraphernalia is everywhere, from lovely strainers that sit in the tea cup and allow the tea leaves to swell and brew, to measuring spoons, electric tea kettles, teapots and teaspoons. Antique stores and local flea markets are also a treasure trove for tea lovers with piles and piles of silver teaspoons and old teacups available. I even found large garden pots in the shape of teacups, though they wouldn’t fit in my luggage. Unfortunately.

Even a trip to the museum can be a tea-experience. Learn all about the history of tea and coffee in Europe at the Bramah Museum in London. Find out why half a million pounds of perfectly good tea was dumped into Boston Harbor at the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum in Boston, Massachusetts. Peek inside an “excavated” alpine teahouse in the Matterhorn Museum in Zermatt, Switzerland. And be sure to check out the China National Tea Museum and gardens in Hangzhou.

But if all that’s just too much time, expense and distance for you, consider an easier alternative: brew up a cup, turn on the Travel Channel and imagine you’re cruising the Rhine, the Yangtze or the Amazon river in your jammies, brew in hand!

Be sure to check out Fazia’s tea blog, All About Tea! It’s great!

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

One of the great benefits of the Internet – besides allowing us to waste our time watching ridiculous video clips at any hour of the day or night – is that it has opened up access to documents that might not have been readily available otherwise. Among these documents are tea books, some of which are out of print or only available in expensive used editions.

Okakura

The Book of Tea
By Kakuzo Okakura (1906)
The Book Of Tea is arguably one of the most influential books ever written on the topic. It’s a slim volume that introduces readers to Okakura’s concept of Teaism and looks at how tea became an indispensable part of Japanese life. The Book of Tea has been in print continuously since it was first published and is available to this day in various printed and electronic editions.

Tea Leaves
By Sir Francis Drake (1884)
An interesting historical document, Tea Leaves’ wordy subtitle also serves as an accurate summary of its contents, “Being a Collection of Letters and Documents relating to the shipment of Tea to the American Colonies in the year 1773, by the East India Tea Company. (With an introduction, notes, and biographical notices of the Boston Tea Party)”

Tea Leaves
By Francis Leggett & Co. (1900)
Another interesting historical text on tea, brought to us by the “Importing and Manufacturing Grocers” whose “object in publishing this and other books is to bring ourselves and our goods into closer relations with consumers at a distance from New York; and incidentally, to provide readers with interesting information respecting the food which they eat and drink.”

The Little Tea Book
By Arthur Gray (1903)
Gray’s book is a brief compilation of historical information about tea. It also includes an assortment of poems, a guide to tea terms in a number of languages, Wit, Wisdom, and Humor of Tea, and more.

Telling Fortunes By Tea Leaves
By Cicely Kent (1922)

Tea-Cup Reading and Fortune-Telling by Tea Leaves
By a Highland Seer

A pair of classic texts on the subject of tasseography (the art of reading tea leaves).

East India Trading Company

East India Trading Company logo

In China, the custom of drinking tea leaves has been around for thousands of years, at least since the Tang Dynasty (June 18, 618 – June 4, 907) if not earlier. However, tea only migrated into England much later in the 1660s when King Charles II married Catherine of Braganza, a Portuguese princess who enjoyed the pleasures of drinking tea and brought that custom with her to England. Tea was thus experienced by the courts of England in the 1690s onward, however tea did not become a popular beverage until the British East India Trading Company began a vigorous campaign to popularize tea amongst common people – mainly to establish a “return cargo” (a trade) with the East Indies that seemed fair in exchange for their exotic fabrics.

It was in the coffee houses of London in the early 1700s that tea was made popular to the lower classes. By 1750, tea was the most favored drink of Britain’s lower classes. This greatly upset tavern owners at the time, who lost a lot of their alcohol sales to tea. Another entity unhappy with the popularization of tea was the British Government who also lost a lot of taxes on the sales of liquor when tea rose in popularity.

William Pitt the Younger

William Pitt the Younger

Unfortunately, the fine teas in China were in great demand by England, however the Chinese had very little use for English goods, so the teas were paid for in silver bullion – again cutting into England’s wealth and causing great critique from some. In fact, Charles II did his part to try to stop the growing sales of tea in England with several acts forbidding the sale of tea in private houses. These acts were extremely hard to enforce though, as the public resented such efforts to control the sales of tea.

Finally in 1696, a tax was placed upon all teas and all coffee house operators were required to apply for a license. Taxation efforts rose to an absurd 119% tax by 1750, causing the creation of a new industry…tea smuggling. Tea would be smuggled on ships from Scandinavia and Holland, and often smugglers would “cut” the tea with other herbs such as willow or licorice to make a profit. Some tea smugglers would even use old used tea leaves to blend in with their shipment. All of this was effectively ended when in 1784 William Pitt the Younger introduced the Commutation Act, which dropped the tax on tea from 119% to 12.5%

From there, tea flourished in England, with Tea Gardens being introduced in the mid-Eighteenth century, and “Afternoon Tea” being established in the 1800s. In 1864, the first official Tea Shop was opened in England by the Aerated Bread Company, and spread in popularity thereafter. To this day, tea is seen as a symbol of Great Britain, but also – to some extent – British Colonialism. In today’s world, tea is still very much a part of British culture and very representative of British society.

[Editor's note: Our blog is chock full of great articles on this topic. Use our search feature to find them!]

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Emperor Shen Nung

Emperor Shen Nung

According to one oft-repeated legend, tea was discovered in 2737 B.C. by Chinese emperor Shen Nung, who advocated boiling water for health reasons. As the emperor was boiling a pot of water one day, tea leaves drifted on the wind and landed in the water. The ruler tasted it and the rest was history.

The Chinese had likely been tea drinkers long before this incident took place. Regardless of its origins however, for several centuries anyone drinking tea had to steep it the same way as Shen Nung – using loose leaves. Then, around 1904, tea bags made their first known appearance.

A New York tea merchant named Thomas Sullivan devised tea bags, more or less by accident. Sullivan distributed samples of his tea in small silk bags and, according to some accounts, a restaurateur dunked one of these bags in hot water and tea history was again made.

The United States Patent Office has no record of Thomas Sullivan. In 1921, a man named George H. Peal was awarded a Canadian patent for a non-refillable Tea-Ball “intended to contain just sufficient tea for a single brewing.” Eleven years after that discovery, the first U.S. tea bag patent went to a New Yorker named Simon Cooper.

In the United Kingdom, a veritable bastion of tea consumption, tea bags were slow to catch on. They were introduced in the mid-1930s, but three decades later, less than 10% of tea drinkers there used them. By the end of the millennium that number had soared to 85%. At that time in the United States, 60% of tea was brewed using bags.

These days, tea bags continue to be a quick and convenient method for preparing tea. In recent years, however, as interest in high-end premium and specialty tea had begun to grow, loose leaf tea made something of a comeback.

A relatively recent development in tea technology features the convenience of a tea bag, but allows drinkers to enjoy premium whole-leaf tea. Pyramid tea bags first appeared in Japan in the early 1980s. They are made with room to permit tea leaves to expand while they steep, allowing the full flavor of the tea to come through.

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© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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