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Brown Betty Tea Pots - UK


Richard Kilgore
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I know that some people think the Brown Bettys are not only traditional and great, but brew tea better than other glazed ceramic teapots. If you use one how do you like it? Have you had any problem with a new Brown Betty crazing?

I read on one web retailer's site that during the past year there has been a problem with new pots crazing when first used. They say it's rare but happens and it has not been noticeable in the past. They speculate that there has been a change in the manufacturing process, but don't know.

I talked to a guy today who almost bought the company many years ago when it was up for sale. He knows quality pottery and seemed not sure that the crazing is a new problem, just something that can happen.

What's your experience with these teapots? Recommend them?

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Brown Bettys are among my favorite tea pots, and I really do think they make better tea.

As far as new ones crazing - I haven't had a new one made recently - I just pick up the old ones at thrift stores. I have noted crazing in some of the older ones I've seen for sale.

I've probably bought more than 20 of these over the years - taken them to places I work, give them to friends - there are usually one or two in the cupboard waiting for someone to need one.

Right now in the trunk of my car I've got a little Sadler sugar bowl that I found at the reuse center, doesn't look like it's ever been used - a perfect adjunct to the pot. Wish I'd found the milk container too.

But of course you have to have the right cozy with them - and that's a dutch cozy in my view.

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Brown Bettys are among my favorite tea pots, and I really do think they make better tea.

As far as new ones crazing - I haven't had a new one made recently - I just pick up the old ones at thrift stores.  I have noted crazing in some of the older ones I've seen for sale. 

I've probably bought more than 20 of these over the years - taken them to places I work, give them to friends - there are usually one or two in the cupboard waiting for someone to need one. 

Right now in the trunk of my car I've got a little Sadler sugar bowl that I found at the reuse center, doesn't look like it's ever been used - a perfect adjunct to the pot.  Wish I'd found the milk container too. 

But of course you have to have the right cozy with them - and that's a dutch cozy in my view.

Thanks, Kerry. Twenty must be some kind of a record. Lucky friends and co-workers!

How do you think it is that they make better tea? What is it about the Brown Betty?

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Thanks, Kerry. Twenty must be some kind of a record. Lucky friends and co-workers!

How do you think it is that they make better tea? What is it about the Brown Betty?

Funny I was wondering the same thing. Is it the shape, is it the colour? I wonder if it isn't the layer of tea scum built up inside it after years of use. That's the same stuff that rinses out in huge chunks after you've been away on holiday and the tea pot has sat dry for a couple of weeks.

Edited by Kerry Beal (log)
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Thanks, Kerry. Twenty must be some kind of a record. Lucky friends and co-workers!

How do you think it is that they make better tea? What is it about the Brown Betty?

Funny I was wondering the same thing. Is it the shape, is it the colour? I wonder if it isn't the layer of tea scum built up inside it after years of use. That's the same stuff that rinces out in huge chunks after you've been away on holiday and the tea pot has sat dry for a couple of weeks.

Another tea mystery. Since it is glazed, my guess also would be that it is the tea residue (sounds better than scum :wink: ) that does it. Glazed, it would not be a matter of the clay absorbing the tea flavor and enriching subsequent brews. There also may be something about the clay that results in better heat retention than some other glazed pots. I'll ask my friend who almost bought the company what he thinks does it and report back.

Anyone else have Brown Betty experience?

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Thanks, Kerry. Twenty must be some kind of a record. Lucky friends and co-workers!

How do you think it is that they make better tea? What is it about the Brown Betty?

Funny I was wondering the same thing. Is it the shape, is it the colour? I wonder if it isn't the layer of tea scum built up inside it after years of use. That's the same stuff that rinces out in huge chunks after you've been away on holiday and the tea pot has sat dry for a couple of weeks.

Another tea mystery. Since it is glazed, my guess also would be that it is the tea residue (sounds better than scum :wink: ) that does it. Glazed, it would not be a matter of the clay absorbing the tea flavor and enriching subsequent brews. There also may be something about the clay that results in better heat retention than some other glazed pots. I'll ask my friend who almost bought the company what he thinks does it and report back.

I talked to my friend with the history in the pottery industry and he thinks the Brown Betty's reputation for great tea probably has to do with the heat retention of the clay and the seasoning from long use without scrubbing away all the residue each time. He doubts the color has much if anything to do with it.

So, anyone else with Brown Betty experience?

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I have several of the old Brown Bettys - mine all have the perforations in the body of the pot where the spout is attached - acts as an internal strainer of the tea leaves.

I don't care much for the modern ones that have the spout opening directly into the body of the pot.

Most of the older teapots in my collection are of this type, with the small holes and the applied spout, and I stopped buying newer teapots because they lacked this feature.

I have lost count of how many teapots I now have but in the Brown Betty line I have every size from a diminutive 2-cup to the largest, a 12-cup. And mine are all the traditional brown.

I don't know if it is the shape, the clay from which they are formed, or what magic they possess, but when I am feeling a bit low, nothing is quite as comforting as a cup poured from one of these homely old pots.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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The closer to spherical, the lower the surface area to volume of the teapot so a Brown Betty won't lose heat as fast as other shapes. Also they are earthenware, right? The more porous clay will tend to insulate better than a stoneware. The downside is that earthenware will depend on the glaze to keep water from seeping into the clay or even through onto your table. So crazing can be a problem with earthenware. Also it is somewhat more difficult to formulate a durable earthenware glaze that doesn't craze. Lead was wonderful for helping glaze fit but has pesky health issues.

Personally I wouldn't worry about the crazing unless tea is weaping through the bottom of the pot. Other people worry about bacteria growing in the cracks but, heck if you just use it for tea and just rinse it out, it wouldn't seem to me to be any worse if it is crazed. I read somewhere that in India there are tea shops where you pay more for tea brewed in a really old pot. Can anyone confirm?

I suppose the big advantage to a Brown Betty is that you can't see the ... er, patina built up inside. :laugh:

It's almost never bad to feed someone.

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  • 4 weeks later...

There is the original Brown Betty and then apparently a number of other shops in the same area of England (Staffordshire) make or made similar pots that are also referred to as Brown Bettys. Anyone know what the others are and how similar - dis-similar they are from the original? Do some brew better than others?

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Those teapots are Chatsford teapots and like the Brown Betty, always displays a sticker with the Union Jack.

The early Brown Betty teapots usually had a hang tag with the Union Jack.

Like the Brown Betty, the name Chatsford has sort of become a generic name for the type of teapot even though the London company holds the patent for this vessel.

The Chatsford looks just like the original Brown Betty and is offered in many colors.

The following sites have various descriptions and etc.

The Chatsford teapot.

Chatsford teapot

Chatsford 2

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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I have a pot similar to a BB made by Pristine. On the bottom it simply says "PRISTINE ENGLAND." Perhaps that means it was not made in Malaysia like the new ones. I guess I've had it for close to 30 years now.

The pottery feels a bit lighter & thinner than the real Brown Bettys that I've handled. It still brews a nice cup. Though I'm of the opinion that my vintage McCormick pots do a better job because they're made of really heavy pottery & thus really hold the heat.

Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

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