There’s more that you can do with Tea than just drinking it- like Tasseography (or Tea Leaf Reading); even if you don’t believe in Divination, Tea Leaf Reading is still an entertaining little game to play when you have friends over for afternoon Tea!
A plethora of information about Tasseography can be found on the internet. Despite the wide availability of resources, though, it can be one of the most difficult methods of divination to learn; there’s so much information and tradition behind it that it’s difficult to figure out what to do. More than that, instructions that you can find online can make it sound so complicated- which in turn can be incredibly intimidating.
But don’t lose hope! Whether it’s a fun game with friends or a legitimate religious experience for you, it’s really not that hard- and today I’m going to share a few of the most important tips; things I’ve picked up along the way that has made my Tasseography so much easier- and far more stress free.
The Tea Matters
Tasseography is performed by placing Looseleaf Tea directly into the bottom of a teacup, and then poring the water over. But most people don’t stop to think about the quality or type of Looseleaf that they’re using- and if there’s one thing that I learned very quickly? It was that it makes a big difference in the outcome.
I’m not talking about using Rose-Black Teas for Love readings, and Green for readings about health, though! If you want to go that in depth that’s up to you. What I’m mostly talking about is actually the size and quality of the Tea Leaf: Fine, Superfine, and Powdery Teas make for hard 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, destroy (or powder) easily, or do not rehydrate well also tend to give you poor results.
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, try picking medium to large leaf Teas from companies known to regularly produce Teas of medium to high quality. This often gets you much better results.
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 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.
Invest in a good cup
I have a collection of Teacups, and everyone who knows me knows this… But you wouldn’t catch me doing a Tasseography reading with the majority of them; nothing makes readings harder than a poorly-suited cup (except maybe a poorly suited Tea).
For starters, while I own (and love!) the Jane Lyle Cup of Destiny, Tasseography specific cups like this aren’t a requirement. But one thing you should take away from the design of many of them is this: Your cup should be patternless on the inside- or if you want a pattern, it should be faint or unobtrusive enough allow you to easily see even the lightest colored Tea Leaves on it.
That being said, it’s really the shape of the cup that’s the important part; the bowl of the cup should hold at least 8 fluid ounces, be widest at the brim or lip of the cup, and have a nice concave to its interior; you don’t have to buy this particular one, but this cup is a pretty good visual representation of what you should look for in a cup in order to get the best reading. And if you invest in a good one, you’ll thank yourself for it later.
Play with Additives
Most instructions claim that adding things like sugar, milk, lemon, and other things to your Tea “ruins the reading” In my experience, however? I’ve found you actually want to prepare your Tea to your personal tastes for a couple reasons.
Firstly, I’ve found that adding sugar to your Tea acts as a binding agent to help the leaves stick to the cup. this in turn makes it less likely that all your leaves will run out when you overturn it, give you more in the way of clear, readable symbols. Milk, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to affect your readings 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.
But secondly, I’ve never had readings mess up so bad as those I couldn’t stomach drinking in the first place. And if I can’t drink it, then I can’t concentrate on the question or even complete the reading. So if you’re not one to enjoy unsweetened Tea (or Tea without additives in general) then save yourself the crying tastebuds; just make it to your preferences- additives included- and don’t worry about it.
Do Whatever, really
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, overturn it, and wait [x] specific number of minutes before reading. Sadly, that’s not an exaggeration, either. And if that works for you, Great! Some people really do need in depth rituals such as these. Others do them because they find them fun… But if reading with that method intimidates you and makes you feel like you’ll never pick it up, however? Stop and take a deep breath, because 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. So find a method that works for you, that you feel is the easiest and gives you the best results.
Don’t push it
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 make it easier. But it can definitely be difficult at first for anyone- and this is true regardless of what kind of a cup you are using.
So don’t push it, and let it come to you. Keep trying and trying and eventually you’ll start noticing them more and more.
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.