There is more that you can do with Tea than just drinking it; this week I wanted to highlight one of my favorite Divination Practices: Tasseography, or Tea Leaf Reading. Even if you don’t believe in Divination, it’s still an entertaining little game to play when you have friends over for Tea!
Tasseography, or Tea leaf Reading, can be one of the most difficult methods of divination to learn in my experience. A plethora of information about it can be found on the internet, and most of it will teach you how to read cups based on certain traditions. Sometimes it can be confusing and intimidating, though, I know.
I fought for years deciding whether or not to give it a go despite my love of Tea, simply because all the instructions online made it sound so complicated and intimidating. There is just so much information and tradition behind it that it is difficult to get the hang of right off the bat. But I’m glad I did and now I’m going to share a few of (what I consider) the most important things I’ve picked up along the way that has made my Tasseography so much easier and more stress free.
1. The Tea Matters.
The first thing I learned very quickly was that the type of looseleaf you use makes a big difference in the outcome of a reading.
I’m not talking about using Rose-Black Teas for Love readings, and Green for readings about health, though! While I personally find such Tea Associations useful with Tasseography, if you want to go that in depth that’s up to you. What I’m mostly talking about is actually the size of the Tea Leaf and the quality.
Fine, Superfine, and Powdery Teas make for really bad readings in my experience. They’re too small and rarely clump together enough to give you any readable symbols. Likewise, Teas that are low quality and end up powdering easily or not rehydrating well tend to give you poor results, too. These are great if you actually have a good eye for things like Coffee Ground readings, but if you are new to Tasseography they may not be the easiest to get the hang of.
Instead, using medium or large leaf Teas from companies known to regularly produce medium to high quality Teas often gets you much better results than small, lower quality Tea leaves. And if you don’t have a whole lot of money to spend on high quality Teas? Don’t worry!
Several companies such as Teavivre offer free samples. Others such as Canton and Capital Teas offer small sample packages of their products for about $1-$5 USD. Signing up for mailing lists can also be your best friend since several companies regularly send out coupons, discount codes, and even free samples to their mailing list and catalog subscribers. Sometimes it just takes a bit of digging to find the good deals and cheap samples, but in the end it’s worth it to make the switch- both in terms of actual taste as well as reading outcome.
2. Invest in a good cup.
I have a collection of Teacups. Everyone who knows me knows this. I love my Teacups, and they’re also great for Tasseography. Nothing makes readings harder than a poorly-suited cup (except maybe a poorly suited Tea).
Though I own (and love!) the Jane Lyle Cup of Destiny, Tasseography specific cups like this are not a requirement. A simple cup will do, but the shape is really the important part. The cup should be patternless on the inside- or at least have a faint or unobtrusive pattern to it that will be easy to read even the lightest colored Tea Leaves on. The bowl of the cup should hold at least 8 fluid ounces, and be widest at the brim or lip of the cup, with a nice concave to it. And you don’t have to buy this particular one, but this cup is a pretty good visual representation of approximately what you should look for in a cup to get the best reading.
Regardless, invest in a good one yourself and you’ll thank yourself for it later.
3. Ignore instructions not to add sugar or milk.
If you’re reading for yourself or doing readings where you must drink the Tea in place of the client- especially- I found you actually want to prepare your Tea to your personal tastes rather than not. I’ve never had readings mess up so bad as those I couldn’t stomach drinking well enough to be able to concentrate on the question in the first place!
There’s also the fact that I found that adding sugar to your Tea not only makes it more palatable if you’re not one for unsweetened Tea, but it also acts as a binding agent to help the leaves stick to the cup- making it less likely that all your leaves will run out when you overturn the cup, and more likely to give you clear, readable symbols.
I also found that milk doesn’t affect your reading at all- though remember not to add something like cream as cream in general is too heavy for Tea and is more properly suited for Coffee.
4. You don’t have to make it a ritual.
I’ve come across Tasseography instruction before that want you to ground, center, recite some Mantra, enter trance or meditation, then drink the Tea, turn the cup three times this way or that way, then overturn it, wait [x] number of minutes before reading the leaves, etc. Sadly, that’s not an exaggeration, either.
If that works for you, Great! Some poeple really do need in depth rituals in order for their divination or magic to work. If reading with that method intimidates you and makes you feel like you’ll never pick it up, however, then stop. Breathe. You really don’t have to do all that.
My usual method involves me brewing a cup of Tea, sweetening it, and letting it steep for a bit while I absentmindedly browse Tumblr. After about 3 minutes it’s usually done and I sit back and relax while enjoying the cup (and thinking about the question). After that I just overturn the cup on the saucer and call it good for another three minutes before seeing what’s left.
It’s easy, it’s simple, it’s no-frills, and it works for me. find a method that works for you though, that you feel is the easiest an gives you the best results possible.
5. Don’t push the symbolism
Picking up the symbolism is one of the hardest things about Tasseography, I think. It’s not that the method is hard, necessarily, but that it takes a lot of practice to train yourself to pick up on the symbols hidden in the lumps of Tea at the bottom of a cup.
Unfortunately, picking up on the symbolism is something you have to learn through practice and careful training of the eye; of course there are cups such as the Cup of Destiny which can make it easier for people… But it can definitely be difficult at first for some regardless of what kind of a cup you are using. Don’t push it and let it come to you. Keep trying and trying and trying and eventually you’ll start noticing them more and more.
Speaking of…. 6. Don’t be afraid to move the cup around.
The cup won’t bite, I promise; Kind of like with life, if you’re having trouble seeing symbols sometimes shifting the angle of the cup and looking at things from a different direction really can make all the difference. Just be careful not to turn it too drastically! You don’t want to mess up your reading or shift the Tea Leaves too badly, after all.