Tea Leaf Reading

Posted by Colleen Bones on


Tea leaf reading also known as Tasseomancy is a time honored method of powerful divination. This lighthearted art is accessible to anyone and doesn't require anything more than a cup of tea and your intuition. Tea leaf reading has a dynamic history, following the trade routes of tea dating back to the 17th century. Fortune tellers developed their readings from splatters of wax and  molten metals before tea was so accessible. During the Victorian era, seances and tea leaf readings were popular at parties where people would pass their cups around and read each other's tea leaves. 
Tea leaf reading is also wonderful way to develop intuition and bring awareness to yourself. Learning to direct energy is powerful. Pay close attention to what you see, the tea leaves often reflect back what is already going on inside you.

What you need:
Teacup: Light colored, bowl shaped is best 
Saucer: Captures the spilled tea for the reading
Loose Leaf Tea: You can use any kind of loose leaf tea, but the easiest ones to read are English breakfast tea, earl gray, honeybush, or rooibos. Don't use tea bags or use teas that are too small.   
Boiling water


While your water is heating, take a few minutes to ground, tune into the body.  Take long deep breaths. We are raising our awareness, directing energy and activating the intuitive brain.  Focus on an area of your life in which you want more insight or guidance (Love, health, money, etc).

Add a teaspoon of loose leaf tea of the cup tea, pour boiling water over the top and let it steep until it is cool enough to drink. Infuse the leaves with your energy. You can place one of your palms over the cup. Keep in mind your question, focus on what you are asking of the tea leaves.  Sip slowly. There is no strainer involved. When you drink the tea, you will be straining the tea with your teeth. Practice savoring your tea as a mindfulness practice.

Drink the tea almost all the way, but leave a very small amount tea at the bottom, about a thimbleful. Enough for the leaves to swirl around the bottom of the cup and stick to the sides.  

When your ready, swirl the leaves around three times in one direction. Place a napkin on the saucer and flip it over on top of the cup.  Now, flip everything back over to drain the last few drops of tea. Turn the cup three more times in the opposite direction to "set" the leaves and turn just your cup back over.  (You can create your own ritual too, follow your intuition and do what feels right to you). When reading someone else's leaves, let them finish their cup before you take it to read.

Just like in many forms of divination, we are looking for images in the cup.  Keeping your question in mind, what do you see?  What do you feel? You can use a symbol dictionary, or pull form a base knowledge of symbology.  But try not to get too caught up in the symbols and their meanings at first. Just practice reading the leaves and see what comes up for you. The tea leaves are said to reflect your inner landscape. 

Tea leaves don't like yes or no questions. General questions work best. Be open, the leaves might be trying to tell you something other than what you are asking. 

Some people like to use a past, present, and future reading. Some say the past is the bottom of the cup, the middle is the present, and the outer edge is the future. Some flip this method (outer edge past, future in the bottom). You do not have to use this method, it can be as simple as looking for images.  Everyone is going to be a little different. Some may use special tea leaf reading cups with symbols in it.  These cups are read depending on where the tea leaves fall, and in this way used more like a tarot card reading.

Sometimes it will be one big image, sometimes a bunch of little pictures.  If images are not popping up at you, try crossing your eyes, or letting go of normal images.  The symbols in the cup can be anything! If you begin to feel that you didn't understand what the leaves were trying to tell you, or that you need more clarity, try again. Use fresh leaves, and fresh energy. Ask more questions. 

It's helpful to have a journal to write or sketch what you see. You can look back later and reflect back on what the leaves were trying to tell you. It could make more sense later.  

You can really delve into the energetic properties of tea leaf reading and make it as complex or as simple as you want. The full moon or the new moon are great times to do readings as the energy is strong on these days. Some might use zodiac teas or tea blends for love or money. Alters, with crystals, candles and seasonal offerings can also be used. 

Thank you for taking the time to read this introduction to tea leaf reading blog. I hope you were inspired to make yourself a cup of tea and read into the leaves! Happy Samhain!  

 Other notes:

  • Do not add cream to your tea as it can interfere with visibility and movement
  • Translucent or dark cups make it harder to read the leaves
  • Some read the saucer too



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