Tea, though a very common beverage, has a highly dynamic history. The tea trade is interwoven in colonialism, revolution, and violence. Unexpected history aside, tea is enjoyed today in nearly every country in the world. Tea is not just for drinking though, tea leaves are an age old divination tool that can be used to explore the past, present, and future.
The reading of tea leaves is known as tasseography or tasseomancy which is the art of identifying symbols and messages found in the configuration of tea leaves. It is a simple practice, but the results can be profound. This is why people have been enchanted by the practice for decades. Since tasseography is not as popular as crystals or tarot cards, it is less understood, but still highly useful. It is easy to get started in tasseography because it is a creative, powerful way to exercise intuition. It is cheaper than a crystal collection and less structured than card reading, so it is a wonderful option for those who want to cultivate a divination practice with what is already available at home. Below are some tips for the beginner tea reader to help with inspiration.
How Does It Work?
All divination practices, including tasseography, is about directing energy. When magical intention is focused on the tea, the leaves are energetic conduits that mirror our experiences including those that are to come. When prompted with a question the leaves can reveal a great deal. Things like advice, blockages, and the future may be opened up in the wet leaves’ density, shape, placement, and color combination.
Setting The Stage
Though this seems like common sense, to read tea leaves you must start by brewing tea. Assemble your needed items, a white or light-colored cup, loose tea leaves, and hot water. Beginners do best with loose black tea leaves, but choose something that you will enjoy and is aromatic. Remember, it must be leaves, not a tea bag. Once you have your tea leaves, place them in the cup and pour the hot water over them. There is no need for an infuser or strainer and steeping is not necessary since the leaves will stay in the cup. As the water cools, reflect your intentions and transfer your energy to the tea leaves.
The person seeking answers in this practice is called the querent. When seeking, be very specific in a clear, concise question. Specific questions get specific answers. When the tea is the right temperature, the querent should sip the tea as they continue contemplating the specific question. When only a teaspoon (give or take a little) of liquid remains, begin the swirling and turning ritual by holding the cup in the left hand and swirling it three times, always left to right. Still in the left hand, slowly invert the cup over a saucer and leave it upside down for a minute before rotating it three times. Sit the cup upright and place the handle facing due south. Tea leaves should be stuck to the cup in different clusters and shapes which tell their story.
Identifying Tea Leaf Symbols
The interpretation process can seem overwhelming, but do not worry, the consistent patterns have been observed for centuries. There are over 150 classic symbols that can be located in classic resources. Generally, there are five symbol types: mythical beings, letters, numbers, objects, and animals. These will be very clear at times like the wings of a bird signifying freedom or a journey that is successful. A cross can mean unforeseen trouble or a blockage of some type. The key is to remember that not every formation requires interpretation, just those pertaining to the question of the querent.
Understanding the Parts of the Cup
The teacup handle is the energy conduit to connect the physical and abstract realms and a symbol of the querent which is why it should be placed due south to signify the current environment. Tea leaves near the handle are related to the querent’s immediate surroundings and across from it relate to outside influences or external issues being aggressed. The cup itself is divided into three sections used for prophesying. The rim is the present, the bottom the far future, and the sides the near future. Depending on the querent’s question, the zones can gauge timing, intensity, and connection.
Try out a few sample readings with friends or on your own and learn if your readings prove accurate. This will help you get started on tea reading and possibly help others.