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How to Read Tea Leaves

It seems everyone has heard of reading tea leaves but how do you do it? Well grab a cup of tea and get cozy! Because we are going to brew up some fortunes and I’m going to show you how!

Tasseography (or tasseomancy) is the art of interpreting messages found in the the symbolic shapes formed from tea leaves. Though the practice is simple so don’t be intimidated there, the results can often be profound. And this is why curious minds have been enchanted by tea leaf reading for centuries.

Like any divination practice, tea leaf reading is based on the concept of directing energy. When we focus our intention on the tea, the leaves become a conduit, echoing our experiences — including those that haven't happened yet. Its the same concept behind Tarot card readings when you think about it. When prompted with a question, the leaves (instead of cards) reveal advice, hidden truths, and even forecast the future. Unlike with cards, these mystical messages are contained within the tea’s leaf shape, density, color, and placement.

The Basics: Start with a loose-leaf tea. Ripping open a store-bough tea bag just won’t do because it’s too finely ground. We want shapes! In my video, I’m using a white tea from Apothecary Teas that I adore. It’s called the White Queen. It’s a white tea with rose petals, lavender and vanilla. And it’s good to note: Keep in mind the ingredients of your tea. Looking for a love reading? A tea like this is perfect due to the rose and lavender!

Place your tea leaves directly into a cup. You don’t want to use a steeper. A light colored cup is suggested so you can see your leaves better. Pour in your hot water and let your tea steep.

The person whose fortune is being told is called the “sitter” or “consultant” or “querent.” The person reading the fortune is the “seer.” Of course if it’s just you, you are all those things. Whoever is asking the question should be as specific as possible. A generic question will yield a generic answer. As always, focus and intent are key. The querent should drink the tea and remain focused on the question while they do so.

When a tablespoon of liquid is all that is left in the cup, the querent should hold the cup in their left hand and swirl it three times from left to right. Next slowly invert the cup over the saucer and leave it there until all liquid drains away. Leave the cup upside down for approximately one minute, then rotate it three times. Turn the cup back upright, positioning the handle due south. Now we are ready to start reading the leaves!

The handle of the teacup serves an important function: It is the energy conduit that connects the physical and non-physical realms. It also represents the querent and, again, should be positioned due south to signify the querent's current environment. Tea leaves near the handle suggest events relating to the querent's immediate surroundings, whereas leaves directly across the handle (due north) symbolize external issues and outside influences.

The cup is divided into three sections: The rim symbolizes the present, the sides represent the near future, and the bottom of the cup signifies the far future. The nearer the symbols appear to the handle the sooner the events will unfold. Depending on the question, these zones can be used to gauge timing (how soon a situation is likely to occur), connection (the physical or symbolic distance between two symbols), or intensity (leaves on the rim, for instance, could suggest a life-changing event). Also, if this seems hard to visualize, watch the video above!

Note carefully the shapes and figures made by the leaves. Turn the cup and view from different angles until the symbols become clear. Be patient and search carefully for symbols and note their position. This isn’t a speed game so take your time. The more you search the clearer they become. Note the resemblance to various objects, and their relation to each other. Sometimes bad omens will be offset by good ones; good ones may be strengthened or weakened by others and so on.

Over 150 classic symbols can be found online so feel free to use resources to help guide your interpretations. Take your time and don’t be overwhelmed. Practice with just yourself or with a curious friend.

Have fun with it! If you love tea, this could be the perfect new pastime for you. I’d like to give a personal shout-out to Apothecary Teas. Visit for high quality, hand blended tea selections.

May your fortunes be good ones!

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