We now know that tea is among the most preferred beverages of the world. In fact, after water, it is the most consumed drink in the world. We have also come to know that tea originate from the plant Camellia sinensis; here is the catch. We do not buy tea in its original form (plant) when we purchase from retail outlets and tea shops. To make sure that only the best quality of tea is delivered to customers, manufacturers select the right type of packaging; this gives rise to the various forms of packaging tea. Tea can be packed into different forms, some of which are given below:
It is the commonest way of packaging tea and it is usually a small, porous paper bag, sealed and filled with enough tea leaves (dried plant material or powdered tea) to make tea or an infusion for one person when immersed in boiling water. Classically, it is the tea leaf, camellia sinensis but the term is also used for herbal teas (tisanes) made of herbs or spices.
In China, during the Tang Dynasty (618–907), paper was folded and sewn into square bags to preserve the flavor of tea.
The first Western tea bags were hand-sewn fabric bags; tea bag patents date as early as 1903. First appearing commercially around 1904, tea bags were successfully marketed about 1908 by the tea and coffee importer Thomas Sullivan from New York, who shipped his silk tea bags around the world. The loose tea was intended to be removed from the bags by customers, but they found it easier to brew the tea with the tea still enclosed in the porous bags. The first tea bag packing machine was invented 1929 by Adolf Rambold for the German company Teekanne.
Modern tea bags are usually made of paper fiber. The heat-sealed paper fiber tea bag was patented in 1930 by William Hermanson, one of the founders of Technical Papers Corporation of Boston, who sold his patent to the Salada Tea Company.
The rectangular tea bag was not invented until 1944. Prior to this, tea bags resembled small sacks.
It is tea in the form of dried tea leaves that have not been put into teabags. The tea leaves are packaged loosely in a canister, paper bag, or other container such as a tea chest. Some whole teas, such as rolled gunpowder tea leaves, which resist crumbling, are sometimes vacuum packed for freshness in aluminized packaging for storage and retail. The loose tea must be individually measured for use, allowing for flexibility and flavor control at the expense of convenience. Strainers, tea balls, tea presses, filtered teapots, and infusion bags prevent loose leaves from floating in the tea and over-brewing. A traditional method uses a three-piece lidded teacup called a gaiwan, the lid of which is tilted to decant the tea into a different cup for consumption.
Compressed tea is prepared by loosening leaves from the cake using a small knife, and steeping the extracted pieces in water. During the Tang dynasty, as described by Lu Yu, compressed tea was ground into a powder, combined with hot water, and ladled into bowls, resulting in a “frothy” mixture. In the Song dynasty, the tea powder would instead be whisked with hot water in the bowl. Although no longer practiced in China today, the whisking method of preparing powdered tea was transmitted to Japan by Zen Buddhist monks, and is still used to prepare matcha in the Japanese tea ceremony.
Compressed tea was the most popular form of tea in China during the Tang dynasty. By the beginning of the Ming dynasty, it had been displaced by loose leaf tea. It remains popular, however, in the Himalayan countries and Mongolian steppes. In Mongolia, tea bricks were ubiquitous enough to be used as a form of currency. Among Himalayan peoples, compressed tea is consumed by combining it with yak butter and salt to produce butter tea.
“Instant tea”, similar to freeze-dried instant coffee and an alternative to brewed tea, can be consumed either hot or cold. Instant tea was developed in the 1930s, with Nestlé introducing the first commercial product in 1946, while Redi-Tea debuted instant iced tea in 1953.
During the Second World War British and Canadian soldiers were issued an instant tea known as ‘Compo’ in their Composite Ration Packs. These blocks of instant tea, powdered milk, and sugar were not always well received. As Royal Canadian Artillery Gunner, George C Blackburn observed:
Bottled and canned tea
Canned tea is sold prepared and ready to drink. It was introduced in 1981 in Japan.
The first bottled tea introduced by Indonesian tea company PT. Sinar Sosro in 1969 with brand name Teh Botol Sosro (or Sosro bottled tea).
In 1983, Swiss-based Bischofszell Food Ltd., was the first company to bottle ice tea on an industrial scale.
► Source: Wikipedia.org.