Tea is the most common beverage on the planet, second only to water. There are many types of tea available worldwide and as well many ways to drink this popular beverage. For many people, drinking tea has become ingrained in the fabric of everyday life. It is more than just a hot beverage; it is an integral element of the culture.
However, not every teapot is created equal. Nowadays, in the age of mass production, finding a high-quality teapot that will survive for years while still bringing out the best flavor might be difficult. Thankfully, there is a Brown Betty teapot – a style of teapot that will dramatically transform your tea sipping experience.
The History of Brown Betty Teapot
The story of Brown Betty teapot starts in the late 17th century, with Dutch brothers John Philip Elers and David Elers, in Bradwell Woods, North Staffordshire. Around 1695, they were the first ones that refined a red clay of Staffordshire, also known as Etruria Marl.
Etruria Marl was discovered near Stoke on Trent, in Staffordshire, England. This clay showed great heat retention and durability. That is why, in an attempt to compete with expensive Yixing teapots imported from China, the Elers brothers chose this type of red clay to produce their own teapots.
Before 1695, most local potteries only made crude pots, but refining Etruria Marl brought new production processes and served as a key catalyst for industrialization in the surrounding area.
Tea was still regarded as a luxury in the 1700s, but it gradually became more accessible to the working classes. By the middle of the century, tea was widely served among the general population, which caused mass production of teapots.
This is the period when Brown Betty teapots gained popularity for the first time. In the beginning, these teapots were unglazed, made only from the Etruria Marl. A thin layer of Rockingham glaze was added later, giving these teapots their distinctive brown color and earning them their name.
Also, at the beginning of its production, the Brown Betty teapot was tall and shaped like a coffee pot. In the 19th century, after years of refinement, the Brown Betty teapot took on its distinct rounded shape and unique design details.
During this time period, Queen Victoria loved drinking tea made in Brown Betty, so this teapot gained even more popularity.
In the 1920s, a company called Alcock, Lindley, and Bloore patented a Brown Betty with a non-drip spout and a locking lid. In the same decade, half a million Brown Betty teapots were made every week.
The production and popularity of Brown Betty teapots continued well into the 20th and 21st centuries. Today, Cauldon Ceramics of Staffordshire, a small craft shop remains the oldest remaining maker of the Brown Betty teapot in the UK.
What is Special About a Brown Betty teapot?
There are a few reasons why a Brown Betty teapot is the finest choice for preparing loose leaf tea, and we’ll go over them now.
The Unique Shape
Brown Betty teapots have a unique globular shape that allows tea leaves to circle inside the teapot every time you add hot water. This way, those leaves release more flavor. These teapots have a rational design that focuses on functionality rather than unnecessary details.
The Benefits Of Red Clay
Brown Betty teapots are made of special red clay, which provides excellent heat retention, allowing your tea to stay hot for longer. Another advantage of red clay is that it absorbs the flavor and scent of the tea, enhancing the flavor of subsequent batches.
Brown Betty teapot has an ergonomic handle, which allows you to pour the tea without getting your knuckles burned on the hot globe.
A Special Color
Rockingham glaze gives a special dark brown color to Brown Betty teapots. This glaze option proved to be incredibly practical, as it effectively hides any tea stains.
The spout on these teapots is designed to cut off the flow of water and prevent the tea from dripping back down on the outside of the pot. The tea pours nicely every time with these teapots.
The Cost VS. Quality
Brown Betty teapots are not only more inexpensive than Bone China teapots, but they are also more durable. Also, Bone China and Yixing teapots are full of lead, which is harmful to your health. Brown Betty teapots, on the other hand, are lead-free and safe to use every day.
When upkeep requires too much effort, all the other benefits aren’t enough. Fortunately, this is not the case with Brown Betty teapots because they are so easy to clean. All you have to do is wash them with warm tap water, place them upside down on the kitchen counter and let them air dry.
If you love history or antique items, you should get a Brown Betty teapot. With a long history spanning over 300 years, Brown Betty is more than just a teapot, and it has an enormous cultural significance.
How do I Identify a Brown Betty Teapot?
Finding the original Brown Betty teapot shouldn’t be too hard once you learn where to look. The biggest sign that you found a genuine Brown Betty is on its bottom. There, you should be able to read “Made In England”, “Original”, or the name of the manufacturer.
Also, the bottom of this teapot has an unglazed ring. On the same unglazed ring, you should find that it was made from red clay from the Stoke-on-Trent region.
Each Brown Betty is handmade using a mold. The more recent Brown Betties are packed with information on their history and heritage. You can also find a Union Jack sticker on the outside of newer Brown Betties.
How Much Are Brown Betty Teapots Worth?
You can find vintage Brown Betty teapots made by various manufacturers for $15-50 on Etsy, but some special editions can cost you over $200. These teapots are usually handpainted or date back to the 19th century.
However, the real value of this everyday object goes far above the money and price labels. Items like Brown Betty are a connection between multiple generations, and that can’t be bought.
Tips on Buying a Brown Betty Teapot
When buying a Brown Betty, make sure you get the original teapot, which can be identified as described in one of the previous paragraphs. Also, keep in mind that Japan produced red clay teapots long before the first Brown Betty was made. Make sure that you don’t buy a red clay teapot made in Japan.
Brown Betty teapots can be found on Etsy, Amazon, and in a variety of online and physical English tea shops. You can choose between vintage and more modern teapots, depending on your specific wishes.
If you buy a newly made Brown Betty, keep the original packaging. Check the teapot thoroughly for any scratches or cracks.
When it comes to newly made teapots, you can also find them in cobalt blue color. Both vintage and new Brown Betty teapots come in various sizes. You can find 2-cups, 4-cups, 6-cups, and 8-cups Brown Betties, and each size can hold a bit more liquid than specified.
How To Take Care Of Your Brown Betty Teapot
Brown Betty teapots are low maintenance, but there are still some tips for taking great care of them. First, don’t wash them in a dishwasher. Washing them with warm water, without soap, will be enough to keep them clean and ready for the next use.
Don’t use these teapots on a stovetop or in a microwave. Instead, use an electric tea kettle to bring the water to a boil before you use it for brewing your tea.
To avoid being broken or bumped, place your Brown Betty teapot in a secure location away from children and pets. To prevent dust from entering the teapot, keep it closed with its lid.
Before you use it for the first time, rinse it under warm water. Allow the teapot to completely dry after each washing before closing it with a lid and storing it away unless you intend to soon use it again.
Electric tea kettles are, without a doubt, the most convenient way to make tea. However, nothing can beat a tea brewed in a Brown Betty teapot. You can easily find vintage or newly made Brown Betty teapots, and you won’t break a bank trying to afford them.
There are several things that make Brown Betty teapots superior to any other teapot:
- Heat retention
- Flavor absorption
- Low maintenance
- Low cost
- Rich history
- Ergonomic shape
- Unique color
Do you own a Brown Betty teapot? If yes, do you have any interesting stories about it? Please share in the comments! Also, don’t hesitate to ask any questions you might have!