A Potted History of The Brown Betty Teapot

Denise's Brown Betty Teapots

It is a known fact that the Brown Betty teapot brews tea better than any other teapot design. This is because of the shape of the pot which allows the tea leaves to be gently swirled around as the boiling water is added, and the special clay used in its manufacture that holds heat so well.

Why is it called a Brown Betty? Well…it is brown, thanks to a Rockingham Glaze.  But why “Betty”?

In the 1800′s no self-respecting house in England was run without at least one servant. As “Elizabeth” was a very popular name at that time, odds were that you had a servant named Elizabeth. And Elizabeth – shortened to Betty – would have served the tea. Some believe that the special brown teapot came to be known as a “Betty” or a “Brown Betty“. But no one knows for sure.

Cauldon Ceramics in Stoke-on-Trent hold the exclusive design rights and are the sole producers of the Brown Betty teapot. They have been making Brown Betty‘s since the end of the 17th century. (Stoke-on-Trent is the historical home of English ceramics and features on the Tea in England banner.)

I have always owned a Brown Betty. At the moment, I have a 2-cup personal size, and a larger 6-cup size for when company visits.  Based on my experience with a wide variety of teapot designs, I definitely believe the Brown Betty produces an excellent pot of tea – but the quality of the newer models by Cauldon are sometimes less than perfect.

Should you decide to buy your own Brown Betty, don’t be fooled by imitations! An authentic Brown Betty will have a small [removable] Union Jack sticker on it,  and the bottom will be marked, “Cauldon, Made in England”. The newer ones are also stamped “©Original Betty”, and carry a swing card with the history of the Brown Betty.

 

Markings on bottom of Brown Betty teapot. Photo courtesy of www.gravelandgold.com

 

If you own a Brown Betty, do you think it is the best teapot for brewing tea?



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Comments

  1. Don’t own an original Brown Betty. If I go through Stoke-on-Trent next year I will have to look for one. There must be several ceramic/china shops there.

  2. Lovely post. Its funny how that pot looks like a Betty. I have two teapots at the moment, one is actually a coffee pot I got in junk shop, and the other a glass one which looks pretty with whole leaf tea. I am now trying to think of names for them:)

    • Thanks Kitty. I love your idea of naming your teapots! I know: let’s have a ‘Name Your Teapot’ day someday! Let me know when you decide on names for yours. I think I’ll name the teapot I was recently given on the cruise, ‘Mary’ since she came off the Queen Mary. :-)

  3. I have a large Brown Betty teapot that has traveled the Atlantic and half way across the United States. I bought her from a specialty tea shop in St. Louis MO. They had imported her from England. She move house with me several times across the Midwestern States. When I immigrated to the U.K. she was carefully packed in a large suitcase and came back to her original home in England where she takes pride of place on our kitchen shelf. She is in perfect condition and has never made ONE pot of tea. She is so BIG that I have never had an occasion to use her. I LOVE her all the same. My kitchen wouldn’t be cosy without our big Brown Betty!

    • ROFLOL What a great story, Debs!! I suppose some teapots are just meant to be ‘spinsters’. LOL I don’t know what size your Betty is, but I must say, my 6-cup Betty does make a LOT of tea!

  4. Oooh! I want one of those!

    • You need one of these, Karen!! LOL

      • Oh, so sad…..I think the Brown Betty that I bought over the weekend is an imitation! :( I remembered what you said about markings “Original Betty” and “Made in England” so when I saw those on my pot, I thought that MUST be it! But, mine says Adderley Ceramics. A bit sad but love it anyway.

        • Don’t fret, Karen … Adderley and Cauldon are one and the same (kind of like ‘Sam’s’ and ‘Wal-Mart’).

          Teapots with a Cauldon mark are a bit older and a better quality than the newer Adderley made teapots which have had some issues (crazing, etc.) But not all Adderley pots have had problems, so hopefully you will have a good one!

          • Well, I already had the lid fall off and have a minor collision with my mug while I was pouring tea. The mug chipped off but the teapot lid did not so I was excited! AND, thanks for the info about Adderley! I feel better about it now. I read that crazing is an issue but I imagine if I handwash it that won’t be an issue. I handwash all my Emma Bridgewater mugs because I worry about crazing.

            • Hi Karen, ouch sorry to hear about the lid falling off! That shouldn’t really happen on a teapot but having said that, I never ‘trust’ a lid when I am pouring tea from a teapot. :-)

              Another rule of thumb about teapots is that they should never be washed in soapy water. All you really need to do is rinse out your teapot well with water each time you use it (I use a paper towel to wipe the inside and under the rim whilst rinsing it under the tap) and once a month (depending upon how much you use it) give it a good clean overnight by filling it with cold water and dropping a denture tablet in the water, you will have taken care of your teapot well! The denture tablet (I just buy the cheap, generic brand) gets rid of tea stains and works well on teacups and mugs, as well. xxx

  5. Growing up, we only ever used a brown betty teapot. I had one when first married but now use bone china which brews good tea.

  6. I have dozens of teapots, and they all make wonderful tea. The smallest holds 2 cups and the largest holds about 3 quarts!

    • BLOG POST! Want to see all those pots and hear the stories behind them. A 3-qt. teapot! That would keep me going (in more ways than one) for awhile. LOL

  7. Hello! I live state-side and I am looking to purchase a Brown Betty for my mother for her birthday. I have done some research and now find that I’m utterly confused. I’ve read some horribly reviews of both Adderley and Cauldon, with some saying one is better than the other, and that the newer versions of these teapots crack and leak. I’m not sure what I should buy and where. I would hate to buy an expensive teapot that cracks and leaks within the first use. Can you help me out at all?

    I loved your post. Cheers.

    • Denise LeCroy says:

      Hi Haley, and thanks for stopping by. I’m afraid that as far as teapots go – Brown Betty or otherwise – sometimes it’s just the luck of the draw as to what the quality is. I would suggest that you start your search on eBay (both US and UK). If you don’t have any luck, then you could order one from a trusted state-side tea vendor like Simpson & Vail http://www.svtea.com/Brown-Betty-Teapots/products/98/ At least they would have a fair return policy if you end up getting a less than acceptable teapot. Good luck and please keep us posted!

  8. Bonnie N. says:

    I was just given a “Brown Betty” teapot with the British flag sticker on it but the bottom stamp says Ceracraft. Is this a genuine Brown Betty teapot?

    • Denise LeCroy says:

      I’m not familiar with Ceracraft, Bonnie, but the British flag sticker means that it’s made in England – where they know what a proper Brown Betty teapot [shape] is – so I would consider it a ‘genuine’ Brown Betty.

      • Thanks so much for responding. My teapot is embossed on the bottom with “Ceracraft” and “Made in England.” It has an all over brown glaze except for the underlip of the teapot cover, which has a dull reddish hue. The shape is definitely that of the traditional Brown Betty but I thought a genuine Brown Betty is made from a specific clay in England, which keeps the tea warmer for a longer period than any other teapot material. Is the shape of the Brown Betty the secret to its success, or the clay?

        • Denise LeCroy says:

          The original Brown Betty’s were made from a special clay; the clay and the shape contributed to its success as brewing an excellent pot of tea. Today, it is the shape of the Brown Betty that many people believe causes it to produce a great brew.

  9. I’m afraid I don’t own a brown betty tea pot either. I have a huge 48 oz Pink tea pot which was sold as having come from the same works, but I never use it due to it’s size. everybody in our family wants a different tea, the family tea pot doesn’t seem to be to popular around my house. :-( I also own a 4 cup white pot in the English tea pot shape, by some company here in the USA I believe, that I use for visitors or if I’m in the mood, it’s best feature is two “fingers” on the lid to lock it into the pot.

    I grew up in a house of Lipton lovers (Mom’s Dad came from England and he loved Lipton loose tea) and never had a tea pot til after I married. I never learned to hold the lid and often forget resulting in the chipping of several favorite English Bone china tea cups. so you can see why this tea pot is a favorite. If I could find a 2 cup size with that feature I’d snap it up no matter it’s color. If it had the appropriate shape of course.

    • Hi Kitty,

      Welcome to my blog and thank you for leaving such an interesting comment.

      I totally understand the problem with your teapot lid, and would suggest you check out the teapots sold by Simpson & Vail in Connecticut. They sell teapots that have interlocking lids: http://www.svtea.com/Brown-Betty-Teapots/products/98/ I have no connection to this company but have known about them for years and they are reliable.

      Where in England was your grandad from, do you know?

      • Grandpa was from the Mortlake region. born in 1901, and emigrated in 1918. The Mortlake region has now become a suburb of London I understand. there were three brothers and three sisters if I recall right, and their father was a green grocer. he started with a cart and kept expanding til he had three or four shops in different surrounding towns. One of my aunts, Mary Hornsby, was one of the swimmers of the Channel way back then.

  10. Hey there. So I was in a Thrift Store tonight and happened upon what I thought was a Brown Betty but with a bit of a flaw. It says Made in England, but then it gets a bit strange. The words Original Betty and Cauldon are backwards as well as the copyright c. It appears to be the right shape and colour. Have you ever seen anything like that?

    • Hi Betty-Lou, yes, I have seen that before on teapots. I think it’s just a matter of the teapot base, where the maker’s name is impressed, being put on backwards. It’s not unusual…and rather nice and quirky. I hope you bought it!

  11. Hello there! I love your posts on Facebook! Great tea loving stuff. I have a problem. A friend broke the lid to a 8 pot Brown Betty. I have been trying to find a way to get a response from Cauldron, to purchase an extra lid. I hate to have that beautiful Betty sitting there topless! It doesn’t matter how many we own,(lots) but she needs her hat! So far I have not received a response to any emails. What should I do?
    Best
    Elizabeth

    • Hi Elizabeth, thanks for your support of Tea in England on Facebook! So sorry to hear about your Betty’s ‘hat’. I will be happy to ring Cauldon for you tomorrow to see how they handle requests for teapot lids. I’ll email you when I find something out.

  12. thank you so much for your post. i have been reading it and all the comments since i stumbled across a cauldon teapot today. with your help i now know that it is not a modern make. it appears to have never been used. still has the union jack on it and an instruction paper tucked inside! it’s so pretty with that quintessential teapot shape. it’s small so it must be a single/2 cup size. thanks again.

    • Hi Jen, and glad for your find! I love those little 2-cup size teapots. Just perfect. Enjoy your Cauldon teapot!

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