Increased consumption of tea in the form of tea bags, displacing the market share of traditional loose tea, according to experts, is one of the major trends in global tea industry in recent years. Tea bags came into existence only in the early twentieth century, only by chance, and for many people, in a relatively short period, came out triumphant all over the world.
Credit for its invention goes to a New York merchant, Thomas Sullivan, who, in 1908 began sending samples of his product –tea, in small silk bags to potential customers. Some of them thought of preparing tea by dropping bags directly into the glass with boiling water, not bothering to fuss with a teapot. The idea was tempting, as it offers a convenient and simple way of preparing the beverage. Soon, tea bags were being manufactured in factories and sold in stores, and the expensive silk gauze was replaced with cotton and later by a special kind of paper. In the mid-twentieth century, tea bag was for the first time brought to Europe, where its popularity began to grow as rapidly as in the United States of America. Today, billions of tea bags are manufactured all around the world annually. The share of this type of tea in the market is growing everywhere. In Europe, for example, by some estimates, nowadays 77% of the tea drunk – is prepared using tea bags. In some countries, for instance, its sales far exceed the sales of tealeaves.
Even in the UK, famous for its ancient tea traditions and culture of tea-drinking, tea bag makes up almost 90% of total sales. In Russia, where according to statistics, about 70% of the population still prefers tealeaves, the number of people developing a liking for tea bags is also steadily increasing, and experts estimate that the tea bags are one of the fastest growing segments of the local tea market. The main reason for the increase in demand for packaged tea is the ease with which it can be prepared and the comparatively less amount of time it takes for the same.
These factors have come out on top, wherever, a significantly accelerated pace of life is noticed along with an improvement in the buying capacity of people – among the urban population for example. For that matter, even the existing global economic crisis has failed to make an impact on the rising popularity of tea bags, despite the fact that people’s income has dropped slightly. The ever-rising popularity of packaged tea is also because of the technological advances in the production of tea and tea-packing equipment, the quality of tea and tea bags thus improving. According to experts, taste and aroma of tea today, do not depend on whether it is sold by weight or in bags.
The key here is in the progress and applied technological advances, duly used while collecting and processing the tea. High quality packaged tea differs from the loose tealeaves only in size, being exactly the same as far as the natural freshness, rich taste, flavor and bright color of the prepared tea, are concerned. As illustrated by the many popular brands, the production of packaged tea nowadays is developing in two directions.
The first - an introduction of an entire range of products and development of new and original flavors and fragrances, which, incidentally, are much more diverse than the tastes and aromas of loose tealeaves. The second direction is connected to the production and packaging of bags themselves, which must satisfy the ever-increasing standards of today's market. Much attention is paid to the protection of tea from environmental factors and long-term preservation of its taste and aromatic properties.
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