austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

We won't have it known that we own a telephone

It's not too difficult to go the whole day without thinking of the technology of tea bags, and that's a good thing considering we don't want people wandering around in tea bag-based reveries and falling into open manhole covers or going around opening manhole covers for people in tea bag-based reveries to fall into. It could be made easier, but it's hard to see how, or what we would gain doing so, and making it harder would inspire people to openly express doubts about what exactly a ``pekoe'' is and what part of the orange it comes from. We can't be having that or the pekoe people will take action against the true underground.

But now that we have it in evidence consider: in the old-fashioned days there was nothing to do but use a tea box which, before commercial aviation, would be constructed of rugged, durable plywood or even steel frames. Mugs had to be sturdier to take the tea boxes being dropped in, and big enough to accommodate the tongs you needed to pull the box out again once the paper tab on the end of the string had ripped off. A spoon isn't going to cut it; you need at least a knife. Eventually developments in string technology allowed for the creation of paper tabs dangling from the tea bag which would let it rip off anytime before you tried taking the bag out of your mug or cup, which solved that spoon problem.

Amazingly the tea bag wasn't designed for tea at all; it took decades for anyone to think to try it and they felt foolish for having waited so long. It got that name by accident, since coming as it did shortly after the development of the R bag and just a little before the short-lived U bag, which had a half-life of only 4.4 billion years, it had these cute little sleeves poking out the top making it look like a middlingly squat T.

The little sleeves were cut off, though, when it looked like the United States and United Kingdom were going to go to war over Venezuela and both nations were looking about for ways to economize ahead of the struggle. Happily the war was averted when both nations realized they couldn't think of anything they wanted to go to war over Venezuela for. Later they considered going to war over Mali, but couldn't agree whether Mali was in North Africa, the Caribbean, or the East Indies, so that was out. Going to war to the side of Madagascar was rejected as far too damp, and going to war under Nicaragua was regarded as too expensive considering all the digging required and really too volcano-y for their tastes. The tea bags stayed the same.

As with many conveniences such as marshmallows, keychains, and slightly outdated signs on the end of library book aisles, the tea bag drew from nature to start with. Short yet un-tall plants with prototypical bags barely big enough to capture a thumb, which you should not try, dotted the landscape along the Missouri River and only occasionally catch enough of a breeze to fluff out and take off landing somewhere eastward. During one nasty stretch of the Dust Bowl billions of feral tea bags fell on New York City, leaving the residents no choice but to declare it a ticker-tape parade. Cross-breeding with golf ball shrubs lead to bigger and bigger strains of tea bag, up to the point in 1943 when Venezuela developed an artificial tea bag, and don't think they didn't lord that all over the United States and United Kingdom. It was just good for Venezuela the various Uniteds were otherwise busy.

The real mystery is how the tea leaves get into the tea bag. The easiest way is to use a fourth-dimensional tunnel to add chopped up leaves to a bag that's already been welded shut. Or you could weld the edges were done later on, but there are matters of delivery schedules that have to be of prime importance after all. Probably I don't want to know it really works.

Trivia: The Mariner 7 probe was launched 27 March 1969 on a freshly delivered Atlas-Centaur rocket; its original launch vehicle was commandeered for Mariner 6, in February, after Mariner 6's original Atlas's pressurized tanks leaked and sagged. Source: On Mars: Exploration of the Red Planet 1958 - 1978, Edward Clinton Ezell, Linda Neuman Ezell. NASA SP-4212.

Currently Reading: Down To Earth: Nature's Role In American History, Ted Steinberg.


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