Reading Tea Leaves

The practice of reading tea leaves, also known as tasseography, is a centuries old practice thought to have originated independently in ancient Greece, Asia, and the Middle East.

The ritual of reading tea leaves is ceremonious and involves the following practices.

First the supplies needed for tea leaf reading are gathered: loose tea (tea from a cut open tea bag will not work because the leaves are chopped too finely), hot water, a white or light colored teacup and saucer, and a cloth or a napkin.

Next a cup of tea is brewed without the use of a strainer.

While the tea is being brewed, the person requesting the reading should mentally picture the issue or question they would like answered.

Once the tea has cooled down and is drinkable, the person asking for the reading is asked to sip the tea.

Once the tea is consumed, the remaining tea leaves and liquid are swirled in the cup by the reader.

At this point in the reading two options are possible:

  • Most tea leaf readers do the reading inside the cup. In this type of reading, the cup is read from the rim down to the bottom, which representing the present to the future.

  • Some readers pour the tea leaves onto a white cloth or napkin and make their reading from the patterns formed on the fabric.

The reader then looks at the tea leaves and looks for images, shapes and patterns. The formations are then interpreted based on a somewhat standardized system of symbols, along with the reader’s intuition.

Common symbols and their meaning include:

  • Acorn – positioning at the top of cup means success and gain; positioning at the bottom indicates good health.

  • Anchor – stands for good luck and success; if blurred, means just the opposite.

  • Circle – represents the end of a cycle or a group of people.

  • Crescent Moon – indicates prosperity, fame; if blurry, it means difficulties will be solved.

  • Elephant – shows good fortune and happiness.

  • Heart – when close to a ring, it means marriage to the present lover; if indistinct, the lover is fickle.

  • House – denotes change or success.

  • Letters – represent people’s names or clues to places.

  • Mountain – challenging journey is in store.

  • Numbers – indicates time, days, weeks, months or years.

  • Owl – portrays sickness or poverty. Warning against starting a new venture.

  • Palm tree – represents good omen and success in any undertaking.

  • Snake – symbolizes lies and falsehoods.

  • Triangles – suggests unexpected good fortune.

Since symbols often have multiple meanings, interpretation relies heavily on the intuition and experience of the reader. Although a popular practice that has been around for centuries, there is no scientific evidence that individuals can divine future events by reading tea leaves.

For a comprehensive list of symbols and interpretation, visit or other reference.

Related Information - Reading Tea Leaves

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