It's hip to be round

Is it milk in first, or milk in second? Sugar or no? What’s the perfect shade - sandy beach, digestive brown, or brick red? The battle for the perfect cup of tea has raged on ocean clippers for centuries.

Today, the battle boils with the power of a million kettles in kitchens and offices around the country. Victory lies in-part with the tea-maker, but also in the tools of the trade.

In the barbarian days of tea, bags were rectangular, which meant the job got done, but also that an unacceptable paper:tea ratio existed.

Cup of tea

Ideas began to stir

Cambridge Consultants noticed the unacceptable ratio. They also noticed that most teacups are round, and so ideas began to stir.

Just like the mechanics of a zipper, a chair or a bicycle seem simple upon inspection, it takes an innovative set of eyes to invent the thing in first place.

The round tea bag is a revolution in tea-making, inasmuch as it finally sanctioned the marriage of the bag to the bottom of the cup in a fit so appropriate, it would be adopted by Tetley, and a host of other brands.

A very brief history of tea

As far as we can tell, the drinking of tea has its roots way back in B.C. China (at least 2,000 years B.C.), when a servant of the Emperor Shen Nung accidentally allowed leaves from a nearby tree to blow into the leader’s boiled drinking water.

It wouldn’t be until the late 16th century that tea would make its way to Europe, via the Dutch and the Portuguese - the Portuguese having brought some back for personal enjoyment, and the Dutch being the first to commercialise the shipping of tea.

Britain would catch on in 1658, with an advert in the London newspaper Mercurius Politicus, offering ‘China Drink’ for sale in the city. In just a few years, tea would become a smash hit amongst the upper classes, thanks to the marriage of Charles II and Catherine of Braganza - a Portuguese princess and avid lover of tea.

Sneaky tea smugglers

As tea’s popularity grew, so did the propensity for it to be smuggled. Ordinary Britons would circumvent regular tea routes and crippling taxation, to buy tea from smugglers at a much cheaper price. By the eighteenth century, it was estimated that as much as three million kilograms of tea was being smuggled into the United Kingdom annually. Blimey!

It was estimated that as much as three million kilograms of tea was being smuggled into the United Kingdom annually. Blimey!

Being landlocked, we don’t think that Cambridge can take any credit for the liberation of tea to the general population, but we will thank Cambridge Consultants for propelling the industry forwards with its round tea bag. Cheers.

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