How To Read Tea Leaves

Learning the Art of Tassegraphy

What do you see in the bottom of your cup?. Andrea Chu / Getty Images

Reading tea leaves, also called tassegraphy, isn't as mysterious as you might think.

Just like other types of divination, such as dowsing, Tarot cardspalmistryusing the Ouija Board, the art of reading tea leaves requires two basic elements: question and answer. 

The querent drinks the cup of tea, leaving a drip or two of liquid in the bottom of the cup. The cup is handed over to the reader, who interprets the meanings of symbols formed by the wet tea leaves. 

Follow These Simple Steps

  1. Gather the supplies needed for your tea reading session. Loose tea, hot water, white or light colored tea cup, saucer, and napkin.
  2. Place a teaspoon (not heaping, tea leaves swell when wet) of loose tea leaves inside the cup. Pour hot water over the tea, filling the cup.
  3. While the tea is seeping, have the querent hold the cup in the palms of her hands. At this time the querent should be focusing her thoughts on the question. The question can be stated out loud or kept private.
  4. When the tea is no longer hot, but warm or luke-warm, the tea is ready to drink. Take care not to swallow the tea leaves. Leave a small amount of water in the cup.
  5. Pass the cup over to the reader, who gently swirls the liquid in circles inside the cup, allowing the tea leaves to stick to the sides (insides) of the tea cup.
  6. Place a napkin on the saucer and turn the cup upside down onto the saucer. After a couple of minutes, return the cup to its upright position.
  7. The reader now looks inside the cup and begins to interpret any symbols ( dots, circles, triangles, squares, animals, objects, numbers, letters) formed by the tea leaves.
  8. Symbol meanings are interpreted differently depending on the "feeling" the reader gets when seeing them. Numbers, for example, can indicate days, weeks, months or even years. Letters can represent clues to a person's name or place. A circle could indicate the end of a cycle, such as a completed project. Or a circle might indicate a group of people. It is best to be open to any "hunches" you get during the reading while viewing the tea leaf symbols, especially when they look more like green globs than images.

Helpful Tea Leaf Reading Tips

  1. If you don't have a typical tea cup try using a small rice bowl. Because of its sloped sides, using any small bowl as a substitute to drink from will be more suitable than using a coffee mug.
  2. Meanings for ​the symbols in tea leaf reading instructions are meant to be used as guidelines. The true art of divination is to intuit the meanings on your own. In other words: Be Your Own Psychic!
  3. If some tea leaves tumbled onto the napkin in the saucer you may also want to interpret the shapes formed on the saucer. Think of any messages from the saucer as an added bonus!
  4. Remember, divination is an art. The more you practice the better you will become at intuiting the answers to questions.
  5. Have fun!

Checklist of Supplies Needed for Your Tea Leaf Reading Session

  • Hot Water
  • Loose Tea
  • Tea Cup
  • Saucer
  • Paper Napkin
  • Open and Intuitive Mind

Visit the Bottom of Your Cup Gallery to review samples of tea leaf readings.