Prior to individual tea bags, enjoying a cup of tea required brewing a whole pot. And since no one wants to reheat a cold, stale cup, that led to a lot of waste. In 1908, a tea importer began sending tea samples out in little silk bags. Instead of taking the tea out and discarding the bag, people put the whole bag in and used it to brew a single cup. Eventually the importer replaced the silk with gauze, or at least that’s how the legend of tea bags goes. However it happened, World War I soldiers were given tea bags as part of their rations, helping the convenient packets become a normal part of the tea drinking routine.