The first tea bags were actually an accident. Thomas Sullivan, a tea and coffee merchant from New York City, tried to cut sampling costs by sending loose tea in small, hand-sewn silk pouches (instead of costly tins, which was what most merchants used at the time). Potential clients, confused by this new packaging, threw the tea in hot water-- bag and all. Thomas started getting many requests for these "tea bags" and realized that he had struck gold. The quick and easy clean-up of the leaves (since they were still contained in the silk bag) made it enticingly convenient. Tea bags first began appearing commercially around 1904, and quickly shipped around the world.