How to Read Tea Leaves: Your Ultimate Guide to Tasseography

August 5, 2022

Curious about how to read tea leaves? This is your guide on interoperating the symbols and how to tell fortunes.

I don’t claim to be any kind of expert on tasseography, but I have conducted a great deal of research on the matter. This is why I can share what I have learned about symbols and their meanings.

In this post, I will give you guidelines to the symbols, their meanings, and how even the cup can change fortune. Let’s begin!

Tea Leaf Reading Symbols

 The tea leaves in your cup are supposed to form a certain shape or image. You will be able to reveal details about your situation or future by depicting what these mean.

First, you have to familiarize yourself with these symbols:

Air-bound Objects (airplanes, balloons, etc.): unsuccessful projects

Anchor: luck regarding business and love life

  • Clear Anchor: good luck in your business and an unwavering love life
  • Cloudy Anchor: bad luck in business and unstable love life.

Angel: tidings of good news, particularly regarding your love life

Apple: success in academia or business; a lengthy lifespan

Arrows: the arrival of bad news

Axe: the overcoming of obstacles

Birds: a sign of good luck or a pleasant journey

Boat: a friend will be visiting you 

Bouquet: excellent luck regarding your love life, success, and friendship

Bridge: a positive journey

Butterfly: a symbol of gratification and success

Candle: depicts enlightenment

Car: you will be bestowed with wealth

Castle: an unanticipated windfall – not necessarily associated with money

Circles: the possibility of money or presents

Clouds: can indicate good or troubled times

  • Only Clouds: a sign of bad times ahead
  • Clouds surrounded by Dots: good financial fortune

Clover: can depict excellent luck, happiness, and success

Coffin: prolonged illness or the loss of a loved one

Compasses: traveling for business

Cow: wealth and success

Cross: indicates some form of trouble such as a delay or a death

Crown: success and honor

Dagger: you will be assisted by friends

Dragon: significant and sudden changes in your life

Eagle: positive rewards when you change your place of residence

Elephant: luck and good health

Fish: you will receive good news from a foreign place

Fox: you will be betrayed by a close friend

Goat: the presence of enemies

Greyhound: expect your hard work to pay off

Gun: there will be conflict that may include slander

Hammer: you will overcome challenges

Hat: you will experience success

Heart: a sign of good things to come

  • Heart Surrounded by Dots: good luck with money
  • Heart Surrounded by Ring: marriage

Horseshoe: selecting a suitable partner or embarking on a great trip

Hourglass: looming danger

House: success in business ventures

Kettle: signifies death

Kite: an extended trip with honorable results

Knife: fighting and hatred culminating in disaster

Ladder: travel

Letter (leaves in a rectangular shape): predicts news

  • Initials Near the Letter: reveals the identity of the bearer of the news
  • Dots with the Letter: the arrival of money
  • Cloudy Dots: loss of money

Lines: signifies a journey along with the direction of the journey

  • Wavy Lines: a challenging journey
  • Straight Lines: a calm journey, but can also mean peace, happiness and a long life

Moon: joy and success

  • Crescent Moon: prosperity

Mountain: an indication of powerful people in your life

  • A Single Mountain: powerful friends
  • Many Mountains: powerful enemies

Mushroom: lovers unexpectedly separating after a fight

Owl: depicts unlucky events such as illness, poverty; an ominous sign when starting a business. May also indicate being betrayed by a lover.

Pear: an upwards boost in wealth, social status, business, or relationship

People: usually a fortunate symbol

Pig: indicates a faithful partner but jealous friends

Pine tree: contentment

Rabbit: success in a metropolitan area

Rat: losses related to your enemies or your employees

Reptiles: impending arguments

Ring: marriage

  • Along with a Nearby Letter:  it is the initial of the future spouse
  • Ring at the Bottom: marriage will not take place
  • Ring Surrounded by Clouds: an unhappy marriage

Saw: issues arising from strangers

Scales for Weighing: a lawsuit

Scissors: indicates bad luck – a breakup or sickness, perhaps arguments

Shark: possibility of death

Sheep: fortune and success

Ship: a successful journey

Snakes: a bad omen – you should take precautions

Squares: comfort and peace

Star: a positive symbol

  • A Lone Star: good luck; if surrounded by dots, wealth, and honor
  • A Star Surrounded by Dots: wealth and honor

Swan: prosperity and a happy love life

Sword: a contentious exchange

  • A Whole Sword: arguments, particularly between lovers
  • A Broken Sword: an enemy will best you

Trees: a symbol of good luck; prosperity and happiness; if surrounded by dots, fortune will be found in the country

  • Just Trees: happiness and success
  • Trees Surrounded by Dots: you will find your fortune in the country

Triangles: a surprise inheritance or good luck in your future

Umbrella: a period of difficulty or annoyance

Unicorn: possibility of a scandal

Wheel: you may receive an inheritance

Worms: you may be at risk from secret enemies

Woman: you have a great desire for love and a family

It is also possible to see numbers at the bottom of the cup. This is typically associated with time and may indicate hours, days, weeks, or months.

Most experts will interpret this according to the other details they notice in the cup. Thus, the exact meaning may not be obvious to you at first.

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Interpreting the Tea Leaf Meanings

Being able to identify the symbols is only half the process in tea leaf reading.

It is just as important to look at the placement of the pictures or shapes.

For instance, if a symbol is near the top portion of the cup, this is usually a good omen.

However, if the symbol appears at the bottom of the cup, this may be a sign of bad things to come.

At the same time, you need to be aware of other details near the main symbol.

For instance, lines are indicative of a journey. However, you can learn more about this by looking at other symbols that may be close by.

Tea Leaf Meanings

Open to Interpretation

It is important to recognize that each tea reader may keep different stock in each symbol.

This is because, as mentioned, tea leaf symbols are open to interpretation.

If it appears that your reading doesn’t make too much sense, you may want to look up other associations of a particular symbol.

How Do You Tell Fortunes with Tea Leaves

There is a whole process involved in reading tea leaves. Thus, if you want to get it right, be aware of the proper way of doing things.

What You Will Need

  • White or light-colored teacup with a wide top
  • Loose tea leaves
white ceramic tea cup
Loose tea leaves

How to Carry Out Tea Leaf Divination

Step 1: Brew the Tea

Add the loose tea leaves to a pot containing hot water.

You can choose to pour the tea into a cup immediately or allow the leaves to steep for a while.

Step 2: Pour the Tea

Pour the tea into the cups of those who want to have their tea leaves read.

Don’t use a strainer. Allow the tea leaves to pour into the cup along with the water.

They should drink the tea until only a little is left at the bottom of the cup.

Step 3: Move the Cup from Side to Side

Have them move their cups from side to side.

They should slowly move the cup from left to right three times.

This will ensure that the tea leaves are evenly distributed at the bottom and sides.

Step 4: Go With Your First Impression

Don’t spend too long looking at the tea leaves at first. Instead, take a cursory glance and determine what you see.

Most people believe that this is the most accurate way of carrying out a tea leaf reading. As you look at the image again, you may be able to notice more details.

reading tea leaves

Alternate Options for Reading Tea Leaves

There is no official way to read tea leaves. As such, you may find that people will often resort to different tactics.

Brewing in the Cup

For instance, you can choose to brew the loose tea leaves in your cup rather than in a pot. This works best when you are only reading your fortune.

Just add the leaves into your cup and pour in some water. Allow the leaves to steep in the water and then drink until only the dregs are left.

Asking a Specific Question

Another thing you can do is to ask a direct question before reading your tea leaves. For this option, focus on a particular query – the more specific it is, the better.

Then, meditate on this question while your tea is steeping, directing all your energy towards it.

The resulting tea leaves may provide you with an answer.

Dumping the Dregs Into a Saucer

Some people prefer to upturn their cup onto a saucer. Make sure to do this when there is very little liquid left in your cup.

Then, turn your cup upright again and interpret the symbols that you see.

Considering the Structure of the Cup

Some individuals believe that the design of the cup also plays a role in the outcome of your fortune.

For instance, if there are tea leaves near the handle, this signifies events related to your immediate surroundings.

However, if the tea leaves are directly opposite the handle, this will indicate external forces.

The rim of the cup is associated with the present, while the sides represent your near future. The bottom of the cup is related to your far future.

Now, depending on the question you ask, these zones may help to determine a connection between people, the timing of an event, or the intensity.

Is Tea Leaf Reading Accurate?

It should be noted that tea leaf reading isn't a science. In fact, for the most part, it is up for interpretation.

This is true whether you are reading your own tea leaves or having a specialist do it for you.

Due to this, it is best not to put too much stock in what your tea leaves tell you. It is far better to enjoy it as a fun activity instead.


What is Tasseography?

So, what is tea leaf reading?

This term can be translated almost directly as “cup writing”.

It’s where people look at the dregs of their teacups and attempt to identify the symbols and their associated meanings.

Now, the actual origins of tasseography are unclear. However, shortly after tea became available to the British public, tea leaf reading soon followed.

The activity took off during Victorian times when Roma people would go to houses, parlors, and tearooms to read people their fortunes.

As you can see, there is quite a lot to master in tasseography. You need to know how to properly carry out the process. Even then, you should correctly figure out what the various figures and shapes are trying to say.

Keep in mind that this is just a fun activity. You shouldn’t take your readings too seriously, particularly if they contain bad omens. At the end of the day, there is no evidence to prove that tea leaf reading is accurate.

About the Author
Dr. Dheena Sadik
Dr. Dheena Sadik is a consultant Nutritionist and Dietician. She has over a decade of experience in the health and fitness industry.
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