What My Old French Copper Tea Kettle Taught Me

Nov 06, 2018

“Trees that are slow to grow bear the best fruit.” ― Molière

I have burnt up three tea kettles in my history of loving tea which has been a mere 15 years long. No, there wasn’t a fire or any big catastrophe, but I can become quite engrossed in projects, and sometimes when I would neglect to close the spout of the tea kettle, which would enable it to whistle, I would remember, but too late, to return to the kitchen. There is a reason electric tea kettles are common worldwide and becoming more common in the United States, they make good sense, and you don’t harm your tea kettle. 

But do I have an electric tea kettle in my house? Nope. I always seek out the whistle, the manual, the large handle with the kettle sans cord. It doesn’t make sense, but for my home, I love a traditional tea kettle. So after my Le Creuset tea kettle became too damaged for use, I took a few months off from seeking out a tea kettle as I had quickly done in the past with the click of a button or two, boiled my water in a saucepan, and took a deep breath. 

Six months later, I still did not have a tea kettle and didn’t have specific plans to shop for one, until I arrived in Provence for the first time, and on my first full day in Vaison-la-Romaine, stumbling across a brocante market in the town square, saw copper seemingly everywhere. 

First I came across a stunning large copper tea kettle that was perfectly refurbished, dent-free, and with a price tag of upwards of 700€. I asked the seller again, convinced I had confused my French numbers in translation. Nope. I heard her correctly – sept cents. I admired from a short distance, snapped a photo and kept shopping about the market.

And then I saw what you see below. This was the scene.

On the fateful day of June 24th this summer in Vaison la Romaine at the weekly brocante market.

Yes, it was that magnetic. I kid, but only a little. 

I did a thorough inspection. I realized it wasn’t perfect, but it was oh, so perfect for me. I wasn’t a judge of retinning needs, but regardless, it was beautiful to me. 

I left the market … without the tea kettle.

I kept asking myself, This is day four in France and your first full day in Provence with more than three weeks to explore – do you really want to precariously carry around a tea kettle along with all of your other luggage?

Answer? I walked with rapid pace to my rental, which was up in the medieval village, grabbed a few more Euros, and walked back to the market.

I inquired – Combien est ce s’il vous plaît?

Quarante. [forty]

I bartered a bit, and agreed on 35€.

Magnetism won out over practicality, and I do not regret it for a moment. 

Upon bringing it home (in my carry-on), as you can see just below, the patina appearance was, in its own way, quite attractive. But, admittedly, even the amateur copper aficionado in me knew it needed to be tended to.

And it made the flight home!

In a matter of weeks, I found an Oregonian retinning company, Oregon Retinners in Hubbard, Oregon. Trusting my tea kettle which embodied the memories, the journey and the growth from my trip in France, I entrusted my tea kettle to strangers. 

I was told it would be six weeks approximately before it would return. I put the length of time out of my mind, pulled out my sauce pan to boil water for my tea and tried to forget about not having my new tea kettle in my house. 

One hundred and forty dollars and approximately eight weeks later (the price included shipping), the tea kettle arrived home (as I shared here and also in my IG Stories). It was akin to welcoming a child home after a long absence, or returning home myself after a long excursion. A small piece had been gone, out of reach, in unknown hands, but it had clearly been in good hands as the brilliance of the retinner’s magic was reflected in my shiny “new” tea kettle. 

For approximately $200 the tea kettle I had hoped to find, but almost accepted I would never find that would be able to tolerate me (copper heats up quickly, unlike my previous tea kettles, so losing track of time and forgetting I have a tea kettle on the stove is all but negated), found me and quietly hoped to gain my attention. Now, the tea kettle in my house holds many stories, something my previous tea kettles did not. 

The explorer tends to find the treasures, but in order to find the treasures, we must be open to unexpected gifts crossing our paths. We too must know ourselves well enough to know when to appreciate from afar and when to engage. Waiting on the sidelines for anything we wish to materialize does not work, but neither does forcing something to happen either. It is a tricky conundrum or an exquisite truth about life that we have to engage, yet let go, in order to find the beauty that life wishes to share with us. Both actions can cause fear, but Ralph Waldo Emerson reminds, “Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.”

My trust in my journey deepened Monday when the tea kettle finally came home to stay, and my excitement to enjoy my first cup of tea could not be made quick enough. 

Below I have found a few French copper tea kettles on Esty. Some are ready to be used and others are perhaps diamonds in the rough as mine was. You can also click the first link to peruse all of the French copper kettles available. 

SHOP Copper Tea Kettles



15 thoughts on “What My Old French Copper Tea Kettle Taught Me

  1. What a beautiful tea pot, Shannon! Like us, it came with some dents and flaws. It travelled long distances to reach it’s final home. After a bit of time and expert attention, it is now brilliant and in great shape! I found a stunning (in my opinion) Art Deco coffee pot at our local broquante. It is not functional, but looks great on the open shelf in my kitchen.
    In regards to burning up your previous tea pots, and being of a similar ilk, I found a little Bodum around the neck timer, which I wore when cooking. I, too, get engrossed in something, and forget to give my attention where needed. It finally gave out, and I’ve purchased another wearable timer, not nearly as “discrete” as my Bodum, but oh so helpful! Your French tea pot has found a good home.

  2. I have a theory: If you picture exactly what you are looking for, then lay it aside in your mind, yet keep alert at all garage sales and flea markets (without actively looking for it), eventually the Universe will put it in your path. At least, that seems to be how it works for me. For me, a few weeks ago, it was a set of Fiestaware teacups to go with the teapot I already had. I found a whole bunch of Fiestaware at an estate sale at a really cheap price, considering, and not ony got my teacups, but a couple covered casserole dishes and a gravy boat as well. They will come in handy for Thanksgiving dinner.

  3. Shannon…what an absolutely beautiful tea pot. I would have carried that around the world if I had to. I liked it before you had it re-tinned but now, after, it is just stunning. What a treasure you found, and I understand all too well your attachment to it. Many years ago, when I was in my 30’s and struggling a bit financially, I bought an English made copper Simplex tea pot with the coils on the bottom. It cost a small fortune then; but, I never once regretted spending that money on it. I still have it today, I still use it all the time, and I still love it. It triggers a nice memory for me, as will yours in the years to come. Truly, it is a work of art. I’m looking forward to receiving and reading your new book. And by the way, congratulations on that accomplishment.

    1. Bev, Thank you for sharing your story with what I know is a stunning tea kettle (they certainly caught my eye as I casually dreamed). I have a strong feeling that you are right, and yep, carrying it around the world would have been a pleasure and a grand opportunity. Not one single regret. 😊 Thank you for your comment and congratulations. 😌

  4. Forty years ago, on my first trip to Europe, I found an Beautiful olive jar at a market in Paris. I stored it for 6 weeks in a train luggage locker, while I backpacketed around Europe and carried it home in my backpack stuffed with a summers worth of dirty clothes. It has always had a place in my kitchen. It cost 10F. So I understand how you feel about your beautiful momento from a very special summer.

  5. Bien Venu to your beautifully restored kettle !
    You must be so pleased to have it home again, and what a transformation !
    Gorgeous.
    I know how much pleasure you will get from using it , and how many lovely memories it will bring back for you.
    Have a great day, Shannon
    Anne

  6. Love the tea kettle, it so beautiful! And the story behind it. Copper always reminds me of England even though I’ve never been there, but want to go so bad because of movies etc.
    Also want to say congratulations on your new book, I hope to order it very soon.

  7. Hi Shannon it’s turned out to be a thing of beauty. It is indeed your lovely story which will be retold and retold. I think you were meant to be together. I remember buying a nearly full set of Christofle cutlery for a reasonable price 43 years ago in Perigeux and it warms my heart every time I use it. Some things are just meant to be😊

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *