Care and Feeding of the Brown Betty – Part 1

My 4 cup Brown Betty arrived today. I requested it after receiving questions like, “how do I season this?” “What’s the difference between the older Brown Betties and the newer?” Our blog has some information on the humble Brown Betty but is lacking so far.20150227_082316

I am reminded of the customer who ordered a simple, inexpensive English Tea Store tea pot in the color brown for less than $6 and was sorely disappointed it was not an authentic Brown Betty. I must caution you here that to receive a genuine Brown Betty, you must actually purchase one.

I unpacked this teapot slowly. It was delivered in much bubble wrap and packaging that could weather any storm on its way to me. The bottom (backstamp) is marked, “Original Betty – Adderley Ceramics, Made in England.”

I had done some reading about the early Brown Betty, with a tea strainer built into the pot and the spout attached from a second piece of clay. This pot has no strainer built in and the spout is formed as part of the pot’s main unit.

20150227_082659The tag reads, “Adderley Ceramics, Manufacturers of the Traditional Brown Betty Teapot in Red Terracotta Clay and Rockingham Brown Glaze. Had made in England. a 100% British Product.” On the back we have the following story:

During Queen Victoria’s reign, tea became a symbol of Britain’s greatest period of expansion and stability. Every  home owned a teapot, even if it was a basic “Brown Betty.” Tea was no longer a refined, upper class beverage but a basis of a whole meal.

While Charleston dancers and many Victorian glamours have disappeared from the scene, the humble “Brown Betty” teapot has still remained a firm favourite. Its origins go back to the end of the 17th century and to the birth of the British ceramic teapot, although in 1700 an ordinary small unglazed teapot made of Red Clay from the Bradwell Woods area in Stoke-on-Trent was a luxury item costing about 12 shillings.

Our “Brown Betty” Teapots are still made from Terracotta as used by the Elder Brothers in 1695. Their method of making was by ‘jolleying’ but in later years it became ‘slip casting’ giving a smooth finish and even thickness.

Succeeding generations of Englishmen have proved that the Brown Betty, as these red ware teapots are affectionately known, make the best pot of tea in the world! The shape of the pot causes the tea leaves to be gently swirled around as the boiling water is added, thus producing an exquisite infusion. The Red Terracotta Clay with its Rockingham Glaze, coddles the brew and gives the perfect cup of tea.


Adderley Ceramic’s website states, “A considerable amount of time has been spent researching the Brown Betty teapot. We have found the original recipe as used by the Elder Brothers in 1695, for Red Terracotta Clay and Rockingham Brown Glaze and sourced the raw materials from the UK, which we use in the manufacturing of our products today.”

Jolly good, but what is jollying vs. slip casting? How do you season and otherwise care for the pot? How does the Adderley version differ from the Cauldon and where does Staffordshire come in (I expect I will be also be getting a geography lesson!)? Please join me this month as I research to answer these questions. Of course, as I write, I will be experiencing tea from my very own Brown Betty!

~Your Editor

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