Reading Leaves


Reading Tea Leaves for Fun and Entertainment

How to Read Tea Leaves

An example of how to read tea leaves

One of the more unique parts of tea culture is the age-old tradition of “reading” tea leaves for the purposes of attempting to foretell the future.  Tea leaf reading involves the of interpretation of what the person “sees” in the leaves.  Different symbols can mean different things. Tasseography , another word for reading tea leaves, is an ancient Chinese practice that spread to Europe with nomadic gypsies in the mid-1800s.  While most people do not take tea reading very seriously, it is an interesting art form with quite a long history behind it.   Here is a quick how-to guide on the art of tea leaf reading.

Pouring and Drinking the Tea

You should brew the tea to be read using loose tea leaves in a wide-brim White Teacup, without using a strainer or teabag.  As the person whose tea leaves are to be read drinks the tea, he or she should focus on a specific question they would like to “ask” of the tea leaves.  They should drink almost all of the tea, leaving behind just a tiny bit of liquid and the tea leaves.

Reading the Tea Leaves

When they have finished drinking the tea, take the cup in your left hand and swirl it around clockwise 3 times.  Cover the top of the cup with your right hand and give it a little shake.   The reader then peers into the teacup and uses their imagination to discern symbols within the tea leaves – for example one might see a ring, a rose, a snake, etc.  The reader should use their intuition as well as standard Tasseography symbolism and meanings (e.g. House: comfort, home ; Star:hope ; Leaf: a new life).

In most tea reading traditions, the cup is “read” from the rim at the handle of the teacup and then the symbols seen are followed downward in a spiral pattern, until the bottom is reached, which symbolizes the distant future.  An alternative method of tea leaf reading portrays the most important events near the rim of the cup and the least important (or most likely to change) at the bottom of the cup.

Tea leaf reading is a long standing form of entertainment involving tea, that has a colorful history and is easy for anyone to do at almost any time.