Any serious tea aficionado will agree that the best tea should never be rushed; not while preparing, not while drinking. Since the seventeenth century, this ideology has been realised through the authentic Brown Betty teapot.
This small brown teapot has been offering the ultimate dimension of exquisite tea for starters and die-hard fans alike. No one really knows what makes its tea better tasting than the same tea made from other teapots.
Perhaps it’s because of the rounded design of the pot which allows tea leaves more freedom to be softly swirled around while boiling water is added, releasing more flavour and less bitterness. Or maybe it’s due to the heat retaining capabilities of the red clay it is made from.
Regardless of the customary brewing magic at play, the subsequent tea is said to be akin to no other in the world. Some words used to describe it are heavy, creamy and exotic. The infusion is so sweet you can practically taste the depth of the syrup versus the individual tea leaves flavours.
History of the Brown Betty Teapot
The Brown Betty Teapot has a unique historical twist behind the worldwide brewing quality. Its origin goes as far as 1695 during King William III of Orange’s reign. At that time, tea was at its peak of popularity. Every home owned a teapot and tea was no longer reserved for the well-to-do.
The first Brown Betty teapot was handmade exclusively by Cauldon Ceramics from red clay that was discovered in Stroke-on-Trent, Britain. This red clay resulted in a ceramic that retained heat better and so began to be used as the material for the teapot.
These ancient pots were created in the style of the day- tall and tiny. They looked more like Victorian coffee pots or chocolate pots rather than the rounded teapots we see today.
But why were the name Brown Betty?
Certainly, the ‘Brown’ in the name refers to the outstanding colour of the pot. Artisans from Swinton pottery developed a unique glaze from iron and manganese that was brushed on the outside of the pot. The excess was allowed to run down the sides, creating an elegant streaky finish when it was fired.
The brown glaze is now referred to as the Rockingham glaze and Rockingham pots are the forerunners to the Brown Betty that would make its entry later.
And now to the name Betty. Let me walk you back a little.
During the Victorian era, no affluent house in England was managed without servants. As Elizabeth was the most popular name during that time, chances were that you had at least one servant called Elizabeth, shortened to Betty. Since it was highly probable that she served tea, the pot was christened Brown Betty after the servant and the colour. This is the most common story, but no one knows for sure.
What are your thoughts? Seems like a long shot
Either way, the Brown Betty teapot is living up to its sublime twinkle. It has an illustrious popularity unrivalled by any other. Queen Victoria always favoured tea made from the Brown Betty teapot and therefore made it the most famous brewer of the Victorian age. Today, I can proudly say that it is a household custom both in Europe and the United States.
I’m one outspoken owner of the Brown Betty teapot. As a tea buff, I have a smaller one (2-cup size) for my personal cravings and a larger one (8-cup size) for when I have company.
From experience, I have come to realise that there is always something about the custom of making a hot cup of tea and sipping it slowly that makes you feel restored and energised. And for sure, each sip of tea from the Brown Betty definitely leaves me soothed and revitalised like never before!
Are you looking for one for yourself?
Should you be looking for a Brown Betty, don’t be misled by copies and imitations. An original teapot must be made from the red clay that was discovered more than 300 years ago. It should bear a mark at the bottom written, ‘Cauldon, Made in England’ and should also have a tiny Union Jack sticker on it.
Rest assured that when you drink a cup of tea from a genuine Brown Betty teapot, you’re not only embracing British history but also enjoying the delicious ambiguous notes of the finest English or Scottish breakfast tea!