After a busy day with lots of errands (thankfully not in the rain), I’m ready for a cup of tea. The humble Brown Betty teapot is a favorite among collectors and tea connoisseurs.
Originally, the pots were made from a red clay discovered in the Stoke-on-Trent area of Britain, in 1695. This clay seemed to retain heat better, thereby creating a more flavourful tea. The colour brown and the more rounded shape we’ve come to love came about in the nineteenth century. The colour comes from the manganese Rockingham glaze, which was painted on the pot and free to flow over the sides, creating a streaky texture during firing.
In the Victorian era, tea served from a brown betty teapot was considered the most flavourful and therefore, it was the most popular teapot. No one is certain whether it was the result of the rounded design which was roomier and let the tea leaves move as the water was poured into the pot, reducing bitterness. Others believe the flavour is attributable to the clay itself. Since the clay can absorb and release flavours, it is best to steep the same type of tea in a brown betty tea pot. The pot should also not be washed, just hand-rinsed and allowed to air dry.
Queen Victoria’s first command upon her ascension to the throne:
“Bring me a cup of tea and the Times”
\we have Queen Victoria to thank for making tea a regular custom in North America and Europe, and she favored tea made in the Brown Betty teapot.