Time for Tea – An Infographic from Emma Bridgewater

Time-For-Tea-infographic

Emma Bridgewater began making her unique pottery in 1985, and today runs the highly successful and much-loved company with her husband Matthew Rice.

 

Emma Bridgewater pottery

Emma Bridgewater pottery

Quintessentially British, their cosy, charming pottery is made in Stoke-on-Trent, the traditional home of British pottery. (The little blue & white teacup on the Tea in England banner represents the pottery-making heritage in Stoke.)

Recently, Emma and Co. sent me this Tea Infographic to share with you.  I must admit, I am a fan of infographics. I love bite-sized chunks of interesting facts and figures, and their Tea Infographic is full of them.

I especially like the ‘What kind of tea drinker are you?’ section. I am ‘The Escapist’. Which one are you?

Emma-Bridgewater-Tea-Latest

 

 

 

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Reprise: The Brown Betty teapot (our most popular blog post)

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

 

 

 

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Tea Revives the World – an illustrated poster from the 1940s

Tea Revives the World Poster 2

In the 1930s, to help promote the sale of empire goods, the International Tea Market Expansion Board was formed. Several colourful maps were commissioned by them from graphic designer cartographer, artist and architect MacDonald Gill to help illustrate the benefits of tea and tea drinking.

Gill was commissioned later on, too. His ‘Tea Revives the World’ map was produced as part of a campaign of reassurance that all would be well during the darkest days of the Second World War. Winston Churchill recognised that if supplies of tea did not reach servicemen and women fighting overseas and those at home working in factories and on the land, there would be a damaging loss of morale.  ‘Tea Revives the World’ implied a determination by the Allies to ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ and to remind people that their cuppa was secure.

 

Tea Revives the World section 1

With its mixture of quirky information and schoolboy humour and packed with details of the leaves’ journey from bush to pot, Gill’s poster was a cheering rallying cry in a time of conflict.  It also throws light on the extraordinary story of tea and shows us its origins, its culture but most of all it shows what fun the human race has had with the drink that is second only to water in worldwide popularity.

 

Tea Revives the World section 5

Packed with snippets of history and amusing quotations it is just the thing to explore as you wait for the kettle to boil.

 

Tea Revives the World section 4

 

And so it was that at the height of the London Blitz, the ‘Tea Revives the World’ poster echoed the very British belief that ‘a nice cuppa’ is the best thing to improve morale. The sentiment still holds true.

 

Enter to win your own copy of ‘Tea Revives the World’

 

 10 February 2014 – UPDATE: And the winner is: LaRue Barnes!

LaRue answered the question  ‘How does a cup of tea improve your morale?’ by saying that:

“The first cup is comfort in the morning starting the day with my hands around a hot mug. Swishing the tea bag,and stirring in a little sugar and squeezing the bag all part of the familiar ritual. Tea is just right.”

LaRue wins a copy of the 1940 ‘Tea Revives the World’ map.

Congratulations, LaRue!

 

 

I have a lovely copy of the 1940 ‘Tea Revives the World’ map to give away!

For your chance to win, please leave a comment below about how or why a cup of tea improves your morale.

Guidelines:

1. Open to everyone – I will post anywhere in the world

2. One comment per person

3. You must leave an email address where you can be contacted should you win

4. Deadline to enter is 11.59GMT Sunday 09 February 2014

5. I will use a random number generator to pick a winner on Monday 10 February 2014

6. Winner will be notified by email on Tuesday 11 February 2014

 

Good luck and I look forward to reading your comments!

 

 

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The Wellington Afternoon Tea – Flawless and Fit for a Duke

Wellington Afternoon Tea at the Wellington Lounge Intercontinental Hotel Park Lane London

As a tea enthusiast who has over the years enjoyed many an Afternoon Tea, I have by now developed a keen awareness of what I love in an Afternoon Tea – and one thing I love is a themed tea. Whilst there are indeed a few elemental things that every Afternoon Tea should contain, the ‘art’ of Afternoon Tea crys out for personalisation and creativity, and nowhere can this be better personified than in a themed Afternoon Tea.

Today I want to tell you about a themed tea that has surpassed all others I have ever had. It is the Wellington Afternoon Tea at Wellington Lounge, InterContinental London Park Lane. And it is in one word, flawless.

 

Afternoon Tea at The Wellington Lounge Intercontinental Hotel Park Lane London

Readers of this blog learned in my post about Apsley House that British military hero and twice Prime Minister Arthur Wellesley, a/k/a the 1st Duke of Wellington, was quite the tea drinker. He travelled extensively through India and Europe on his campaigns, drinking tea and enjoying exotic food. With a taste of his exploration subtly woven throughout, the Wellington Afternoon Tea honours the Duke by using the best of British ingredients infused with influences from his international destinations.

Talk about the art of tea!

 

The Wellington Afternoon Tea

 

Surroundings

With just the right balance of light and space, the ambience in Wellington Lounge is magnificent – sophisticated elegance, yet comfortably informal.

Afternoon Tea at The Wellington Lounge Intercontinental Hotel Park Lane LondonAfternoon Tea at The Wellington Lounge Intercontinental Hotel Park Lane London

I love the view out the window across to Wellington Arch:

Afternoon Tea at The Wellington Lounge Intercontinental Hotel Park Lane London

Table Setting

The exotic green Anthuriums on the tea tables in Wellington Lounge are quite handsome and immediately evoke a sense of the Duke’s worldly wanderings.

The Wellington Lounge tea ware is striking. Its silver geometric design is a fresh change from what you normally see used at tea.

Wellington Afternoon Tea Wellington Lounge InterContinental London Park Lane

Tea Beverage

The extensive Wellington Lounge tea menu offers tried and true favourites, unusual teas, and a few exclusive house blends created through a collaboration between Executive Chef Paul Bates and the London emporium Tea Palace.

For our tea, we opted for their bespoke Wellington Blend, ‘a blend that embraces the spirit of a wonderful English tea. A balance of Assam, China Black tea, Earl Grey and softened by English cornflowers and mallow blossoms.’   It was outstanding – bright and full-flavoured with a gorgeous aroma.  Mr. Tea declared it the best tea he ever had! This from an Englishman. Need I say more? (We even brought a tin home with us. It can be purchased at the hotel shop.)

 

The Wellington Tea Blend Tea at Afternoon Tea at The Wellington Lounge Intercontinental Hotel Park Lane London

Tea Service

The Wellington Afternoon Tea is served in the traditional style – with a bit of a twist. The tea stand is brought to the table and displays tea sandwiches on the bottom tier, sweets on the middle tier, and a crowning glory signature dessert on the top tier. The ‘twist’ is a distinctive, independently presented tea sandwich served at the start of the tea.

 

Wellington Afternoon Tea, Wellington Lounge at Intercontinental Hotel Park Lane London

The Twist

Do you remember my saying how a themed tea crys out for personalisation and creativity? The unique, stand-alone tea sandwich served at the start of the Wellington Afternoon Tea is a perfect illustration of what I mean. Made with Spanish Monroyo ham and Monte Enebro cheese, the ingredients are a nod to the Duke of Wellington’s 6-year campaign in Spain. And it’s served on potato bread – a cheeky reminder that England’s beloved military hero was actually born in Dublin. Well done, Chef!

Spanish Monroyo Ham, Fig, and Monte Enebro Cheese on Potato Bread:

Spanish Monroyo Ham, Fig, and Monte Enebro Cheese on Potato Bread Tea Sandwich at Afternoon Tea at The Wellington Lounge Intercontinental Hotel Park Lane London

Tea Sandwiches

The Wellington theme continues with the Duke’s local association reflected in a Chilled Sirloin of Gloucestershire Beef with horseradish sandwich, served alongside an anything-but-boring Hen and Duck Egg mayonnaise sandwich with celery cress on brown bread. And thanks to the Portuguese Sardine with sherry vinegar and honey dressing sandwich, we’ll never forget Wellington’s protection of Portugal from the French army.  Who says history can’t be fun? (And delicious.)

Additional sandwiches are offered, should you desire. The sardine sandwich was so good, I asked for another. Up until then, I had never eaten a sardine in my life and wasn’t particularly worried about it either, but this sandwich was luscious.

 

8 Tea Sandwiches at Afternoon Tea at The Wellington Lounge Intercontinental Hotel Park Lane London

Scones

I appreciated that at the beginning of the tea service, our waiter Mohammed (more about him on Friday – a fabulous individual) gave us the option of choosing when to have warm scones brought to the table. This little nugget of information ensures that the customer is served fresh, warm scones precisely when they want them, and that is exactly what happened when the plate of homemade Sultana scones and Buttermilk scones arrived as requested. Generous scoops of clotted cream and strawberry preserve rounded out the interlude, one that is paramount to every proper English Afternoon Tea experience.

The scones were just the way I like them: light and soft on the inside, with a hint of delicate crunch on the outside. It’s my opinion that the hallmarks of a perfect scone (besides taste and appearance) are a good rise; a substantial yet light density; and the presence of a natural break line in the middle allowing it to be gently pulled apart in half.  These scones ticked all the boxes.

 

11 Sultana and Buttermilk Scones with Devon Clotted Cream and Strawberry Preserve at Afternoon Tea at The Wellington Lounge Intercontinental Hotel Park Lane London

Sweets

You’re full already, aren’t you? I know! But who can resist cakes at tea time?

In his duties as a military and political leader, the Duke of Wellington spent time in the Netherlands, India, Spain, Portugal, France, Denmark, Belgium, Austria, England and Ireland. The final course of the Wellington Afternoon Tea salutes his global travels with exquisite sweets of Blackberry and Vanilla sponge Bavarois, Coconut tart with Pistachio confetti, Gateau ‘Basque’ with comfiture of black cherries, and Raspberry Meringue with vanilla cream.

Do not let the 2-bite size of these little gems fool you – each one packs a flavour punch that will literally curl your lips with satisfaction.

My favourite was the meringue, whilst Mr. Tea preferred the coconut tart with its shards of fresh, sweet coconut.

 

9 Sweets, Cakes and Pastries at Afternoon Tea at The Wellington Lounge Intercontinental Hotel Park Lane London

Waterloo

It all began when the Duke of Wellington was taking care of business in Vienna and Napoleon decided to take care of unfinished business in France by escaping from Elba – so what Wellington themed Afternoon Tea would be complete without a worldly cake offering of the Sachertorte, Austria’s famous chocolate torte. This was my first Sachertorte. The chocoholic in me is saying that it won’t be my last. Read here about the interesting history of the Sachertorte.

Sachertorte:

10 Sachertorte at Afternoon Tea at The Wellington Lounge Intercontinental Hotel Park Lane London

Remains of the Day

Even after all these years of Afternoon Tea-ing, it still surprises me how filling tea food can be. The experts at Wellington Lounge know this, and will be happy to box up any leftovers so you can continue the experience later on at home with your own cup of tea.

12 Takeaway Box of Extras at Afternoon Tea at The Wellington Lounge Intercontinental Hotel Park Lane London

Conclusion and Recommendation

The Wellington Afternoon Tea at Wellington Lounge InterContinental London Park Lane is from all perspectives the best Afternoon Tea I have ever experienced. There are a number of reasons for this and I’ll be telling you about them on Friday, but in the meantime I strongly encourage you to book in and see for yourself.  You will be treated to beautiful surroundings, delicious food, impeccable service, and unparalleled value. An adventure the Duke of Wellington himself would have enjoyed.

Afternoon Tea at The Wellington Lounge Intercontinental Hotel Park Lane LondonHow to Book the Wellington Afternoon Tea

 

Served Monday to Saturday from 1pm to 5pm, the Wellington Afternoon Tea at Wellington Lounge is priced from £28

Bookings are essential and can be made by ringing +44(0)207.409.3131

InterContinental London Park Lane – One Hamilton Place – Park Lane – London – W1J 7QY

 

 

 

 

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Tea, Apsley House, and the Duke of Wellington

The Duke of Wellington's Teapot

Silver teapot used on campaign by the 1st Duke of Wellington

One of the reasons I write this blog is to share my tea experiences in England with an audience of readers who, like you (and me!) love tea and love England. Another reason is to reveal the sometime obscure tea connections that I seem to find woven throughout the places I visit here. Here’s one of them.

 

Apsley House

 

Apsley House, with its prestigious address of Number One London, was the London townhouse of Arthur Wellesley (1769-1852) – better known as the 1st Duke of Wellington. Besides defeating Napoleon at Waterloo and being a two-time Prime Minister, Wellington did all that other stuff that gets your name on hundreds of pub signs in the country puts men like him into the history books. You can read more about his adventurous life here.

Because it contains one of the finest art collections in London, a stunning collection of silver and porcelain (including tea sets – gifts to the Duke to celebrate his military and political prowess), and a massive nude statue of Napoleon (and we always thought that Napoleon’s “complex” was due to his small …….. stature), a visit to Apsley House was on the Tea in England Bucket List. And so it transpired.

I can report that Apsley House is a fantastic property to tour. English Heritage have done well in keeping the interior of the house much the same as it was during the occupancy of the Iron Duke. (P.S. The Wellington family still live there!)

 

"Tea. Now."

“Tea. Now.”
The Duke of Wellington

 

The Tea Connection

 

Then

Many 19th century military officers traveled with their own dinnerware, and Wellington was no exception. His traveling canteen, displayed in the basement at Apsley House,  includes plates and serving dishes, beakers and tumblers, knives and spoons – and a silver tea set.

Wellington was a dedicated tea drinker who appreciated its qualities, and whether at home or away on campaign, a pot of tea was never far from hand. He wrote that whilst planning the [Spanish] Battle of Salamanca, “Tea cleared my head and left me with no misapprehensions.”

So it is true: Real Men Drink Tea

 

And now

There could be nothing more perfect after a visit to Apsley House than to treat yourself to a Wellington-themed Afternoon Tea in London. Impossible? Not at all! The Wellington Lounge at Intercontinental Hotel London, a stone’s throw from Apsley House and in the shadows of Wellington Arch,  honours the original Duke of Wellington with its magnificent Wellington Afternoon Tea that uses British ingredients infused with influences from his travels.

Wellington Afternoon Tea, Wellington Lounge at Intercontinental Hotel Park Lane London

The Wellington Afternoon Tea

 

I was recently invited to experience the Wellington Afternoon Tea and I can’t wait to tell you about it. It was flawless! Look for my review on Wednesday.

In the meantime, don’t take my word for it that the Duke of Wellington was a tea drinker. See for yourself:

 

 

 

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Are those tea leaves on Harrods’ family tree?

A Harrods Cup of Tea

Whenever I’m at Harrods, the first place I head to is the Food Hall, mainly because it’s one of the few places in the store where I can afford something. But the real reason is because I love the tea section. It’s not a particularly large space, but it’s crammed with boxes and tins of more than 300 pre-packed teas, and 165 single-estate, single original teas.

The last time I was there, they were featuring this 22-carat gold tea. As if.

22-carat gold tea from Harrods

You probably know all there is to know about Harrods, the world’s most famous department store:

That it had the very first escalator in history.

That it sits on 4.5 acres and is visited by 100,000 shoppers every day.

That A.A. Milne found the original Winnie-the-Pooh for his son Christopher Robin in the Toy Department.

That it employs 5,000 staff from over 50 different countries, together with 7  ‘Green Men’ who stand by certain doors to offer heavily-laden shoppers a helping hand.

But there’s one fact that I bet you didn’t know.

A brief history of Harrods

In 1834, Charles Henry Harrod, a London tea merchant (and grocer), rented a small shop on Brompton Road, Knightsbridge. The area was quickly becoming quite fashionable, and in just a few years, the discerning Charles – a man of good taste – put his store, Harrods, on the proverbial map.

It eventually passed from father to son, and Charles Digby Harrod continued to build the business by purchasing adjacent stores and introducing a delivery service that is still in operation today. The family sold the business in 1889, but Harrods continued to grow in profits and in size. Its motto is Omina Omnibus Ubique: All things for all people. It truly is legendary.

Harrods Tea Court

“Our customers want the best teas…” ~ Yousef Serroukh, Tea Buyer, Harrods


And all due to one man, a tea merchant, whose legacy lives on through the sales of luxury tea to discerning drinkers from across the globe.

 

The next time you are in London and visit Harrods, don’t be so much amazed by its size, atmosphere, or wealth as with the fact that it all started with a cup of tea.

 

 

 

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London’s Cabbie Tea Huts

Russell Square Cabbie Tea HutThere are so many, many things I love about London. The most endearing sights for me, as a tealover, are these adorable little green buildings known as Cabmen’s Shelters or, as I call them, Cabbie Tea Huts. These shelters were built in Victorian times as places where a London taxi driver could grab a cup of tea and a sandwich. They serve the same purpose today.

The first shelters were built in 1875. At that time, it was illegal for a cab-driver (in his horse-drawn carriage, called a Hansom Cab) to park his cab and leave it unattended. This made it a bit difficult to get a hot meal during the day. In stepped The Earl of Shaftesbury who, with some other philanthropists, created a charity called the Cabmen’s Shelter Fund. The charity built and ran these “shelters” at major cab stands to provide cab-drivers with good, wholesome food at reasonable prices.

Cabbie Tea Hut in LondonIf you have ever watched movies depicting the hussle and bussle of street traffic in Victorian England, you will appreciate the building requirement that these charming little buildings be no larger than a Hansom Cab. Though twee, they still managed to fit in a kitchen and seating for 10-13 men. 61 shelters were built between 1875 and 1914, and 13 remain, located here:

  • Russell Square
  • Chelsea Embankment – near the Albert Bridge
  • Embankment Place
  • Grosvenor Gardens – west side of north garden
  • Hanover Square – north of central garden
  • Kensington Park Road – outside numbers 8-10
  • Kensington Road – north side
  • Pont Street
  • St George’s Square, Pimlico
  • Temple Place
  • Thurloe Place, Kensington – opposite the Victoria & Albert Museum
  • Warwick Avenue – Clifton Gardens
  • Wellington Place, St John’s Wood

The next time you are in London, keep an eye out for these tiny tea houses. At most of them, anyone – not just a cabbie – can order a cup of tea or a sandwich.

Cabbie Tea Mug, 1935-1945 (Museum of London)

This 3/4-pint tea mug would have been used by a London cabbie in a Cabman’s Shelter. A cabbie would bring his own mug to the hut, where it was kept and looked after by “shelter boys.” (Image from Museum of London archives.)

 

 

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HISTORY OF TEA TIMELINE

The history of tea is an East meets West tale of romance and intrigue involving emperors and kings; duchesses and queens; sailors, soldiers, wars and trade; politics and potters; botanists, smugglers and entrepreneurs – and lovers of the leaf like you and me.

This history of tea timeline will help you navigate the five thousand plus year old story of the nectar of the gods: Tea.

 

 

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Tea, Sir Joseph Banks, and Spring Grove House

Conservatory at Spring Grove House

If you have read my story about this blog, you know that the longer I live in England and the more I see and do, the more I discover that almost  every place and every thing here has a tea connection. Some are obvious, but others are obscure and I need to do a bit of research before I can make the association. Today’s post is a perfect illustration.

I hope you read about the Royal Albert Afternoon Tea at Kew Green I went to a few weeks ago on a Saturday; it was also Open House London 2012 that week-end. Open House London happens once a year when over 750 buildings in London and the surrounding area throw open their doors with free entry all week-end. Most of the buildings are well-known and not generally accessible by the public throughout the year; a few places are less familiar.

When we left Kew that Saturday, I thought we were going straight home but Mr. Tea, who thinks he is the best driver in the world does most of the driving in our family, took a slight detour and followed the Open House London signs until we ended up at a place called Spring Grove House. Except we weren’t just at Spring Grove House – we were also on the campus of West Thames College*, of which Spring Grove House is a part.

 

Spring Grove House, West Thames College campus

Spring Grove House

The exterior of Spring Grove House, built in 1779, was pleasant enough, but there certainly wasn’t any kind of  Wow! factor going on for me, so I couldn’t figure out why we were there. I had never even heard of the place.

We walked in the front door and as Mr. Tea was signing the Guest Register, the docent enquired of him, “Alumni or visitor?” to which he replied, “Alumni.”

Huh?

Apparently, Mr. Tea studied here in his late teens. (Married to the man for almost ten years, and I’m still learning things about him!)

 

Stained glass window, Spring Grove House

Spring Grove House was quite lovely inside, with beautiful stained glass windows, dark wood panelling, plaster ceilings, and beautiful fireplaces. In 1886, the house was owned by Andrew Pears, great grandson of the famous soap manufacturer. But before that, in 1808, it was the country residence of Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820) of London.

I was not familiar with Joseph Banks but during the brief house tour, learned that he was an eminent English botanist and explorer who collected plant specimens from all over the world. He traveled on the Endeavour with Captain Cook, and was instrumental in the development of the now world-renowned plant collections at Kew Gardens.  It was Banks who introduced us to the likes of eucalyptus and mimosa, and he even had a genus named after him: Banksia.

 

Stained glass window detail, Spring Grove House

Walking around Spring Grove House, I started thinking about Sir Joseph Banks.  As a botanist in the late 18th century, surely he must have a tea connection, in turn giving Spring Grove House a tea connection as well. At that time in England, tea was in great demand and tea drinking was prevalent and fashionable. Still a somewhat ‘new’ commodity, it was studied and discussed by all the great movers and shakers of the day.

I returned to a room where books and papers about Banks were laid out, and picked up a large volume on the life of Sir Joseph Banks. I flipped to the index at the back of the book, turned the pages until I reached the letter in the alphabet I was looking for, and ran my finger down the page hoping to find the word tea.  And find the word tea I did – together with page after page after page of tea-related references. I couldn’t wait to get home and start reading!

 

Sir Joseph Banks, Blue Plaque, Spring Grove House

My research revealed that Sir Joseph Banks was a man passionate about tea – and a man of influence upon its history.

▪ He was the first to identify the potential for growing tea in India, and in 1788 suggested it to the East India Company.

▪ He and his wife Lady Banks were avid collectors of china tea ware, and regularly served tea to visitors at their London home.

▪ He had a tea house in the basement of his home where he would experiment adding different flavourings to tea and in so doing, created the Earl Grey tea blend!

Or did he?

There are several theories about the history of Earl Grey tea,  but a very recent one is that  Sir George Staunton, an officer of The East India Company, sent a sample of Chinese tea scented with Neroli oil to Banks. In an attempt to re-create the blend  – can’t you just visualise Banks the mad tea scientist in his London basement, adding a pinch of this and a pinch of that to his cauldron of black tea leaves? - Banks realised he did not have Neroli but he did have a [experimental] Bergamot tree growing in his garden, so he used the similarly flavoured Bergamot oil as a substitute.

Whatever its true provenance, the pleasing tea-with-Bergamot blend was named after the popular politician Earl Grey, and marketed first by both Twinings and Jacksons of Piccadilly.

 

Proudly bearing a Blue Plaque to botanist and explorer Sir Joseph Banks, the innocuous Spring Grove House sits quietly within the campus of West Thames College, London Road, Isleworth. Of all the teachers, students, and visitors who have ever had a cup of tea there, how many knew just how much that cup of tea connected them to the man whose name is on that plaque?

 

 

*In this instance, the word “college” means post-high school but not at degree level.

 

See the Tea in England Facebook page for more pictures of Spring Grove House, and some fun and interesting things related to the content of this post.

 

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?