SEVEN FASCINATING FACTS ABOUT
THE ‘ BROWN BETTY’ TEAPOT
Pour yourself a cuppa and learn more about this 300-year-old British icon
The Brown Betty’s origins go all the way back to the 1690s, when Dutch brothers John Philip and David Elers began refining a seam of red clay in Staffordshire. They made some of the first red-ware pots, designed to withstand the thermal shock of boiling water, and in so doing provided a vital catalyst for the ceramics industry in Stoke-on-trent.
Why is it called the Brown Betty? The Brown part is obvious, but the Betty may have originated from the popularity of the name Elizabeth in 19th-century England. Many people had servants with this name, often shortened to Betty, and one of their key tasks would have been to serve the tea.
Nobody knows who originally designed the Brown Betty, but it remains the most manufactured teapot in British history.
glossy chocolate-brown glaze ( known as a Rockingham glaze) handily renders tea stains invisible. How practical!
The Brown Betty has lasted because it works so well. Its round shape is perfectly suited to brewing tea: it’s easy to swirl the leaves around and the red clay retains heat brilliantly.
Despitenot been its safe humblefrom fakers. nature, Avoidthe teapot inauthentichas imports and buy from Cauldon Ceramics, the oldest remaining manufacturer, based in Tunstall, Staffordshire. Its Brown Betties are still made from the same seam of red clay unearthed all those years ago, and cost from just £18.40 (cauldonceramics.co.uk).
London-based ceramicist Ian Mcintyre, who has designed tableware for Hay and Another Country, is a huge fan of the Brown Betty and is working on a project to put it back in the spotlight. Supported by the British Council, he’s collaborating with Cauldon Ceramics on a new version, to be launched next year.