The art of Tasseography, or tea-leaf reading, originates from a late medieval European practice of reading patterns on splattered wax and lead. In the 17th century, this practice evolved to reading leaves from cups of tea. You can gain a lot of insight into questions you may have by practicing this simple method of divination.
Reading tea-leaves is quite simple. You only need a light-coloured tea cup, hot water, and tea leaves. If you are a coffee person, you can use coffee grounds, and an even older version uses wine sediments from older bottles. Here’s how to do it, and some things to look for.
Step 1: Brew your tea or coffee or pour your wine. Using tea or coffee, this should be done loose-leaf and without a tea-bag or filter. If you filter out the leaves, there will be nothing to read! This is the preparation stage, where you should calm your mind and focus on the one nagging question that you may have, or the thoughts that won’t go away in your meditation. Mentally prepare this question and run it in your head.
Step 2: Once your tea is cool enough, drink it slowly. Do not drink the whole thing– leave just a little bit left in the bottom of the cup, enough to swirl around the bottom of the cup. Once you’ve reached this amount, close your eyes and swirl the remaining liquid up around the walls of the cup, leaving the fragments of leaf stuck to the sides of the cup. Some other methods say to pour that remaining liquid onto a saucer, which is also a correct method.
Step 3: This is where your subconscious mind helps. Looking at the clumps of leaves or ground, identify any shapes or patterns. Write them down on a notepad. Draw them if you cannot describe them. Use your imagination, as you know the symbols that connect with your question more than anyone else would. Traditionally, the reading should start at the handle of your teacup and go clockwise.
Step 4: Abstract pattern recognition and reasoning will help you to discern what each pattern, shape, or group of shapes means. It may help to try to piece together a story or dialogue using the things you see in the cup in order to help interpret them. You make see things others will not, or make connections that others don’t. That’s fine, and in fact is the better way to read tea leaves in general. Once you have reached the last symbol in your cup, your reading is complete. Wash out your cup and don’t let the tannins in tea, wine, and coffee stain your porcelain!