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February 19, 2015

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Tea Tales: What Can Your Tea Tell You?

Loose-leaf tea leaves are not only great for steeping delicious drinks – they are also useful in tasseography, the practice commonly referred to as tea-leaf reading. Although tasseography is generally associated with gypsy fortune tellers, ancient Chinese traditions indicate that reading tea leaves is a far older practice of divination. The sediment left at the bottom of the tea cup has been used for centuries to predict future events, decisions and encounters. Many modern day fortune tellers offer tasseography services, but you may actually get more out of your tea leaves if you read them yourself. Whether or not you believe in fortune telling, reading your own tea leaves can allow you to access your subconscious thoughts, fears and desires. The images you see in the cup sometimes indicate feelings you have suppressed or forgotten.

One of Canada's greatest Prime Ministers, Mackenzie King (d.1950) often made domestic and foreign policy decisions through reading his tea leaves. King was a dedicated diary writer, and discussed numerous times that as Prime Minister he consulted many divine beings for advice. He sat in office for the duration of World War II and wrote in his diary, dated February 7, 1941:

“At luncheon, in looking at my tea-cup, I saw very clearly a soldier in uniform standing with his legs apart as though over a sort of open space with objects on either side which might have been bodies of men or lumps of earth. I showed the cup to Macleod [who was his butler at the time], asked him what he saw. He said without a word with me: a soldier standing with his legs apart. I said to him it probably has reference to the war in Africa.”

At the time, Mussolini and his Italian troupes had invaded Egypt, which was then part of the British Empire. The allied forces, including Canada, were able to push back Mussolini's army until Hitler sent German reinforcements. Perhaps, King's reading reassured him that the Allied Forces could come out of Africa victorious, which possibly indicates a suppressed anxiety over their involvement in the war.

Do you have any pressing decisions you need to make? Follow the steps below to read your own tea leaves and who knows, maybe the answer will present itself to you!

  1. Steep your favourite black, white or green loose-leaf tea with varying leaf sizes in a plain white cup with a wide brim. Do not use a blended tea as it will make the reading more difficult, and be sure to leave the leaves in the cup, not in an infuser or filter.
  2. Hold the cup in your left hand and slowly drink the tea until there is about 1 teaspoon remaining. Rapidly turn the cup clockwise three times and then slowly tip it over onto a saucer to drain the remaining tea. While the moisture drains, you may want to concentrate on the questions you seek to answer.
  3. Turn over the cup and examine the leaves inside, moving your eyes clockwise from the handle. Are there any patterns in the arraignment of the leaves? Do you recognize any shapes or pictures? Use a pencil and paper to jot down your notes as you assess the leaves.

Tradition dictates that the closer the symbols appear to the handle of the cup, the nearer in future they are.

Here are some examples of symbols and their prescribed meanings:

  • Patterns resembling letters may indicate persons whose names begin with that letter
  • Small dots of leaves near other symbols are said to indicate money
  • Anchors indicate success in business or love
  • Arrows indicate a negative correspondence from the direction they come
  • Birds are lucky and indicate safe journeys
  • Bouquets of flowers are the most lucky signs and indicate happy marriages, success and friendship
  • Churches indicate a legacy through either a birth or successful endeavour
  • Crosses are a sign of trouble or death – many small crosses indicate potential failures in business

For more information on the symbols you might see in your tea leaves, consult Tea Cup Reading and Fortune Telling By Tea Leaves by “A Highland Seer,” available for free through The Project Gutenberg ( . Chapter IV provides a detailed reference list of symbols and their meanings.

Try reading your own tea leaves and maybe you'll discover what the future has in store!


Carolyn Hebert


1 Response


February 20, 2015

Care! Love this post. Reminded me of Harry Potter lol

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