|Brown Betties are a great price, too! This one is $23.99 on ebay.|
|My faux "Brown Betty" looks a bit like this one on Amazon. Not real, but it still makes a nice cuppa.|
Tea drinking became popular in England before 1800, to the point where poorer folks purchased used tea leaves and/or tea leaves mixed with other, less savory, ingredients (including animal dung). While the upper class served tea in bone china, regular people used clay tea pots.
Most of the time, these pots were intended to be used for a while before they inevitably broke, and then could be replaced. But what became known as a Brown Betty teapot proved durable and superior at brewing tea, and many became heirlooms.
There is no single Brown Betty teapot; it's not a brand. Rather, a Brown Betty is a type of teapot, but they all bear certain things in common.
- The teapots must be crafted in Staffordshire, England, from the red clay discovered there in 1695.
- They are round in shape, although very early teapots from Staffordshire red clay looked more like coffee pots.
- The teapots are glazed with manganese, or Rockingham glaze. They are a soft lavender color until the second firing, when they turn their famous shade of brown (a little like Hershey's chocolate syrup).
|Although it looks black int he picture, this pot on Amazon is labeled as being crafted by Cauldon, and is therefore authentic.|
A few companies still make Brown Betties, Adderley Ceramics Ltd. and Cauldon Ceramic Ltd.
Is your teapot a Brown Betty? Whether it's Adderley, Cauldon, or from another manufacturer, it's easy to tell. Flip it over. On the bottom, there should be an unglazed ring of tell-tale red clay, and it should say "Made in England".
|Same Adderley pot from the top of the post, on ebay.|
One more word on caring for your Brown Betty: don't put it in the microwave or on a hot stove. And to clean, just rinse well. That's one benefit of the classic brown glaze: it won't show tea stains!