How to Read Tea Leaves: The Ultimate Guide

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Learn how to read tea leaves in my ultimate guide to tasseography! Learning tea leaf reading can be for anyone, whether you are looking to just have some fun with friends, or you are looking some answers from unknown mystic forces. Afterall, it’s human nature to want to understand our universe. Just like the divination art of tarot cards, crystal balls and norse runes, tea leaves can be used in the same way to understand our past, present and future.

Reading Tea Leaves for Good Fortune

The Ultimate Guide for Beginners: What’s the history, what does it all mean and how exactly does it all work!

Welcome to the ancient divination art (foreseeing art) of tasseography, also known as tea leaf reading. Here is my guide on how to read your very own tea leaves at home!

I have the most wonderful childhood memories of looking into the leaves with my sister, mum and grandma. We would often visit my grandma, drink tea, eat cake and share stories and chat about what we see in our cups. As a little girl, I was mesmerised by the magic and intrigue of the pictures created within my cup and loved using my imagination to work out what it could all mean.

Tea leaf reading is a fabulous way to get friends and family together for an afternoon of fun and fortune telling, whether you are a believer or not. If drinking tea isn't for you, there is always the option of using coffee grounds or even wine sediments. Many people around the world use these methods in place of tea leaves. Wine reading sounds like a fun girls night in activity. Or perhaps tipsy tea cocktails could be used!

Common Tasseography Questions

Here are some commonly asked questions about the ancient art of reading tea leaves:

What is Tasseography: Is Tasseography the Same as Tasseomancy?

Tasseography is the art of tea leaf reading which is sometimes called tasseomancy. Both tasseography and tasseomancy have the same meaning, fortune telling with tea leaves.

How Does Tea Leaf Reading Work?

Tea leaf reading, or tasseography works in the same way that other fortune telling methods work, interpreting the magical energies that each person portrays, whether it be in the cards that we deal or in the wet tea leaves that we leave behind in a cup of tea. These symbols show us hidden messages.

What is Coffee Reading?

Just like tea leaf reading or tasseography, you can also read coffee sediments. Coffee fortune telling is super popular in many countries. Sometimes coffee reading is referred to as ‘Turkish coffee reading’. Reading coffee and tea leaves both have the same concept, for find symbols in the cup which can tell our fortunes, our past, our present and our future. The coffee is enjoyed and then the bottom sediment left is swirled around, the cup is then turned upside down. Then the coffee cup is ready to read in the same way that tea leaves are read.

Read more: How to make tea around the world

Who Invented Tea Leaf Reading?

The first type of readings were actually read by using wax. Gypsies of Western Europe first used patterns in wax for fortune telling. It wasn't until the 17th Century that tea leaf reading was invented and used for the first time. During the 17th Century, Tea was introduced to Europe by the Dutch. It was during this time that Gypsies adopted tea leaves as a substitute for their wax fortune telling.

Fortune Telling Tea Cup

‘The Cup of Destiny’, aka the ‘Fortune Telling Tea Cup’ is a great tool to use for both tea leaf and coffee reading. The fabulous Edwardian designed tea cup makes tea leaf reading easy by allowing the reader to make sense of the symbols and placement of the shapes within the cup. Allowing the reader to make sense of their past, present and future. The set comes with a tea cup, saucer and an explanation book too.

What Does a Tea Leaf Reading Tell You?

Tasseography is the formal name for the art of tea leaf reading and it can tell you lots about your past, present and future. The word Tasseography means to study the writing of the cup. ‘Tasse’ means ‘cup’ It is derived from the French word ‘tassa’ ‘Graph’ is a well known word in the English language, however, its origins are from the Greek language, meaning ‘writing’

Tea leaf reading will show messages in form of symbols that show past, present and future. Symbols such as babies, balloons, shoes and even sharks can be seen in your cup. Each symbol will have a meaning.

How do you Read Tea Leaves?

Here’s how to start with reading tea leaves: Firstly brew a pot of your favourite loose leaf blend. Loose leaf is best for this exercise and smaller loose leaves work at creating the best readable shapes and symbols.

Do you Need a Special Cup for Reading Tea Leaves?

You don’t need a special cup for reading tea leaves, but it is best to choose a white tea cup and saucer that is free from patterns and ridges on the inside to make the reading nice and clear. Alternatively, the tea cup of destiny is a great tea cup to help visualize the symbols in your cup.

How to Start Reading the Leaves

Once your tea has been brewed to your desired time, pour into your cup without the use of a strainer or filter. The aim is to have leaves in your cup. Whilst enjoying your cuppa, be sure to loose yourself in your thoughts, emotions, wishes and dreams. Leaving about one tablespoon of liquid, take your cup in your left hand and move in a circle 3 times from left to right. Turn the cup upside down to drain the remaining liquid, leaving the loose leaf in a pattern inside the cup. Now let your imagination take over! Try writing down the patterns and shapes and where in the cup they appear.

How to Read Your own Tea Leaves

The Ultimate Guide for Beginners: How to Decipher the Code!

How to Decipher the Tea Leaf Code

Now on to the fun part: how to read your own tea leaves.

Precise Pattern Placement is as important as the shapes themselves, Holding the cup in your left hand with the handle on the right side is the traditional way to read the leaves. The top of the cup is the future, bottom of the cup is the past, and middle is the present. The nearer the handle, the more present.

Below are some of the most common shapes, signs and symbols and their meanings. However, this is just a guide, the leaves can have a different interpretation for different individuals.

If you are interested in more information about how to decipher the tea leaf reading code, here is a great souce: The Project Gutenberg EBook of Tea-Cup Reading, and the Art of Fortune-Telling by Tea Leaves, by 'A Highland Seer'

What do Tea Leaf Symbols Mean?

Reading tea leaves can be lots of fun trying to find meaning in all the shapes and symbols that you see appear in your cup. There are five types of symbols: animals, mythical creatures, objects, letters and numbers. Here are some symbols and what they may mean:


AIRCRAFT means new experiences or something unexpected

ANCHOR points to good luck, a journey or rest that is needed

ANGEL could mean good news in love, blessings or perhaps protection

APPLES are a common symbol for schooling, success or health

ARROWS could mean news is coming, take note to which way the arrow is pointing

ALIENS are exciting imagination and new ideas


BABY could mean just that or perhaps new beginnings or new challenges

BALLOONS or BUBBLES are celebrations, busy times or perhaps it is a warning that someone is about to burst your bubble

BEETLE or INSECT could determine a battle or domestic confrontation

BELL points to noisy demands or a new person could come knocking at your door

BIRDS represent a journey or protection from your spirit guide

BOOTS or SHOES denote travel, hard work, strength. Take note to which direction the shoe is pointing


CANDLE is beautiful enlightenment, peace and relaxation, However it could also mean heat from an imminent love affair!

CAR or CARRIAGE points to wealth after a long journey

CASTLE means protection, strength or perhaps you are the king of your castle in domestic life

CIRCLES are gifts and protection and also show completion of a task

CLOVER of the 4 leaf variety is sure to mean good luck whereas 3 leaf clovers show warning in a tricky situation

COFFIN points to new beginnings and the end of a troublesome period


DOGS are signs of faithful love and companionships


EGGS denote new beginnings, fertility or perhaps you are sitting on some news!

ELEPHANTS represent strength, perhaps you are carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders


FEATHERS outline someones soul and spiritual progress

FEET show decisions need to be made, also see BOOTS

FLOWERS or BOUQUETS symbolize love, happiness and healing

FOXS are cunning and sly, caution should be taken in regards to a devious friend


GUN or CANNON could mean an explosive argument or extreme emotion


HAMMER represents hard work and determination. Perhaps a relationship needs fixing

HEART shapes show love and emotion, perhaps a new love is on the horizon

HOURGLASS or CLOCKS shoe time ticking, something important requires attention


ICEBERG is cautionary, emotions are bigger than they appear, its just the tip of the iceberg


KEYS represent coming of age or new possibilities

KNIFE or DAGGER could mean cutting ties with someone or perhaps a feud


LADDER symbolizes growth and reward from determination

LETTER is a sure sign of communication

LINES can point to many signs. Take note how they appear, wavy or straight?


MOON shows success and reflection of ones self

MOUNTAIN could mean to overcome difficulties or to interfere with anothers problem


OWL symbolizes wisdom and is a warning of deceit and to use own judgement in a tricky situation


PIG signify jealousy and gluttony and that someone may get hurt


RAT, RODENT or MOUSE shows an escape from a situation, perhaps involving losses or irritations

REPTILES could mean feuds and someone that is cold towards you

RING symbolizes marriage and commitment. Also see CIRCLE


SCALES could mean trouble with the law or perhaps a better balance of home and work life needed addressing

SCISSORS could mean cutting ties with someone or something similar to KNIFE

SNAKE or SERPENT is a cautionary sign, be wary of a snake in the grass!

SPIDERS have the power to weave a web with determination and careful planning.

STAR, ASTERIX or SNOWFLAKE shows shining love, beauty and optimism


TREES signify growth, love and strength. Deep roots could mean stable relationships


UMBRELLA could mean that you are sheltering from something or someone and perhaps someone is jealous and you require protection

UNICORNS are mythical creatures and symbolize mythical lies, maybe something doesn't add up and you seek evidence and justification

What Tea is Best

Firstly, it is always best to use a tea that you enjoy, however, there are some recommended guidelines for getting the most out of your tea leaf reading.

Loose leaf teas without added flowers and fruits are ideal for this exercise. Teas that would work well would be (but not limited to) sencha green tea or black tea blends. Choose flat leaf teas rather than hand rolled pellets such as gunpowder green tea or some rolled oolong teas. Smaller leaves are also recommended as they create perfect easy to read shapes and patterns. Rooibos and peppermint would be ideal to use.

Read More of my Blog Articles About Tea

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