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Tales From The Teacup

Long before globalization was a popular term and conference calls connected continents, arduous trade routes were responsible for spreading product and cultural traditions from one people to the next. Fragrant teas and spices traveled across oceans and lands spawning new customs in new worlds. Along with aromas, flavors and health impacts of teas also came rituals such as the reading of tea leaves, or tasseomancy. Tasse comes from the French word for tea and the Greek suffix, mancy, indicates the Greek word for divination.

A fun parlor activity between close friends and family, or a more serious event hosted by a seer of sorts, reading tea leaves is a way to enjoy your tea even after you've enjoyed it. Before you begin, you will need a teacup, a saucer and plenty of loose-leaf tea...simply choose a flavor you love! The tea is prepared as usual except this time you will not use a strainer when pouring into your teacup. The person having their fortune read will need to hold the teacup in their palms and focus their thoughts while drinking until about a fourth of a tea spoon of liquid is left in the bottom with the tea leaves. The cup is then swirled around a few times by the reader and tipped upside down on the saucer to drain remaining tea while the leaves stick to the bottom and sides of the cup. Now, peer into the cup now and check out the pictures, numbers and letters that may have formed!

reading tea leaves

Symbols read in the tea leaves are very open to interpretation and glossaries may be found in books on tasseomancy or on the internet. Some symbols are more common than others; I've included a short list of these:

  • Anchor: At the top of the cup, an anchor can mean career or romantic success. In the middle, it symbolizes health and at the bottom an improvement in health or wealth.
  • Bell: The bell means unexpected news is coming! The news is good when at the top of the cup and several bells may mean a wedding.
  • Eye: This can mean a warning of caution or an overcoming of trials or difficulties.
  • Hourglass: The hourglass represents a decision that must to be made.
  • Mushroom: A mushroom symbolizes growth or setbacks unless it is flipped and then it may mean frustration.
  • Spoon: Generosity.
  • Umbrella: Annoyances and a need for shelter are foreseen by an umbrella
String multiple symbols together creating complete readings to ponder over as you relax with your tea or to giggle over with your friends while you put another kettle on the stove. Whether a mystical scenario or an interesting evening activity, here's to delicious tea and to your own continuation of a timeless past time!



    • Avatar
      Sep 7, 2011

      This is fun! We should post photos of tea leaf symbols and have people try to read them.

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