While tea has been around for centuries, it wasn’t until recently in the 20th century that the popularity of tea really began to rise.
This was the century that the all too familiar tea bag came into existence thanks for the creative mind of Thomas Sullivan. He was a tea merchant from New York who used to send tea samples in silk bags to his customers. Because of this intriguing invention, the cost of tea lowered in price. This also allowed for the masses to be able to drink tea without the need of extra and complicated utensils.
It was also during this century that the tea crop itself began to expand in its source. Where it was once strictly in Asia, our familiar Camellia sinensis started to find its new home in Africa as well as South America.
But that’s not all.
There are three other major reasons as to why tea consumption in the west grew in popularity:
One was the ever rising trend in the whole “let’s get back to nature” trend as well as the aspiration of leading a simple and healthy lifestyle. Tea, being a natural beverage with many obvious health benefits was easily adapted into this trend.
Another was the massive immigration of Asians to the west. In doing so, the immigrants also brought their love of tea with them to the western countries.
Another is the increase of western travelers journeying to the east. In their return, they would also bring tea with them.
The result is that tea activity has grown to a whopping three billion dollar a year industry producing more than 2.5 million tons of product yearly in more than 20 countries! Phew what an industry!
One thought on “Tea 201 – Tea and the 20th Century”
That’s quite insightful.
I think that a lot of the hardcore tea hobbyists than shun tea bags (I personally know a few) forget that it was this innovation that lead to tea being so widespread.
We owe a lot of the growth of tea culture to the teabag.