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 What is Tasseography ?

Tasseography is the art of reading tea leaves or coffee sediments. Sediment reading is an ancient tradition found across many cultures and regions. As tea culture became fashionable in Europe, early in the 17th century, Tea-Leaf reading quickly followed. Tasseography particularly took root in England and Ireland. It’s surmised that travelling folk popularized the ritual by bringing tea reading door to door.

Of all the divination methods, Tea-Leaf reading is perhaps the most social and engaging. Something magical happens when we sit together to prepare and share a cup of tea. This simple ritual has the power to bring us together, open our senses, and heighten our intuitive abilities.

Tea-Leaf reading is highly recommended for those seeking to enhance their intuitive abilities. TarotArts offers a selection of books that will help familiarize you with the traditional methods and introduce you to the meanings of many symbols that may appear in cup. However, the real power of this divination method comes when we release ourselves from fixed meanings and tap into to our own deep intuition.

 The Traditional Cup

It is traditional to use a smooth porcelain or china teacup with an all-white interior. This acts as a “blank canvas” where one can freely intuit the shapes and designs created by left-over tea leaves. A wide cup with gently sloping sides is a must as this will entice your tea leaves to stick to the sides of the cup and form images. Cups will straight edges, like a mug, will not work well. Many readers find that an heirloom or traditional style cup enhances our connection to the ritual by building a bridge to our ancestors and those who have practiced the craft in the past. TarotArts has tested many cups from all over the world. This fine 8 oz English porcelain teacup and saucer received out highest recommendation.

 The Cup of Desitiny

There is also a tradition of using a cup with pre-defined markings, like the Cup of Density.  These cups have markings printed on the inside of the cup and readers focus on symbols the leaves land on. Generally, these types of cups also have marked areas related to the current, intermediate, a far future. These cups are great as an introduction to tea reading and are fantastic for parties and larger groups. With one of these cups, you will be reading the leaves on your first try.

 The Tea

First and foremost, you will want to select a loose-leaf tea that appeals to you. A great tea should tantalize your senses and relax your soul. A simple black tea or black tea blend works well. When working with blends that contain flowers or large ingredients, you may want to gently grind down the larger parts. Avoid powdery teas or “tea dust” that one finds inside a teabag. Those leaves are generally too small to generate images. For tea reading, it‘s suggested to avoid milk and sweeteners.   If you feel these are a must, be sure to sip your tea first. Many loose-leaf teas have enough flavour that these are not really necessary.

 The Ritual

Whether you are planning to read your own tea leaves or you have a designated reader, your tea reading ritual should definitely include time to make and enjoy a great cup of tea. Put about a teaspoon of loose-leaf tea directly into your cup, add boiling water and let it steep for a few minutes. As you are drinking your tea, start to focus on your question. Good questions often pertain to an important decision in front of you and what effects your choices might have.


Enjoy your tea until there is only a small amount of liquid left in the cup. (Two teaspoons is a good guide.) Next, swirl the remaining tea around the cup. It is traditional to do this with your non-dominant hand, swirling in a counter-clockwise direction.   In the next step, you will carefully invert your cup and let it drain. The simplest way to do this is to place your saucer upside down over the teacup and invert the set together. Let the remaining tea drain and then rotate your cup three times in a clockwise direction, Tap the cup three time with your fingers. You are now ready to turn your cup over and start your reading.

Interpreting the tea leaves

If you are working with a designated reader, pass your cup to them. If you are reading you own leaves, you are ready to start. It is always a good idea to let one designated person do the reading. If you are with a trusted friend and you want to bounce your thoughts off them, that can work well; however, messages can get confused if one person is not designated as the reader.


Most readers will divide the cup into sections. A common way to do this is to use depth to represent time. Typically, the symbols near the top represent the immediate future, usually in a few days. The middle of the cup represents the near future and the bottom of the cup would represent things further afield. In addition, the import of a symbol can be determined by the proximity to the teacup handle. In this type of division, symbols closer to the handle are manifesting while symbols further away are fading from the realm of the sitter. Keep in mind that every reader has developed their own unique methods for dividing a cup and it’s not necessary to adhere to one method.

As you look into your cup, take your time and clear your mind. Be prepared with pen and paper so you can record your thoughts. Don’t be disappointed if the sediments in your cup aren’t immediately recognisable as fully formed images. Feel free to rotate your cup so that you can look at it from different angles. It’s helpful to remember times when you were a child and discovered an image in a cloud. Remember how once an image is formed it’s impossible “un-see” it? It’s the same in tea-reading. These will be the important images in your reading.

As the images form in your mind, it’s helpful to jot them down. Make note of their relative size and position in the cup. Think about each symbol and the properties that come to you. For example, a key is used to open locked things. A camel can travel far with limited resources. You will want to rely on your physic and intuitive abilities to understand how the images are related and what story about yourself or the sitter they might tell. If nothing about the images resonates, it’s helpful to consult a reference book or a symbol dictionary.

Remember, that above all, a tea-reading is meant to be a stress-free enjoyable entertainment. For thousands of years, it has helped many as a transformational tool that allows you to look at your life and situation in a new and different light. It will not predict a predetermined future and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.