How to Read Tea Leaves: 

Your Ultimate Guide to Tasseography

How to Read Tea Leaves

The art of tea leaf reading or tasseography goes back several centuries. People used it to attempt to predict their fortunes and their perils.

This practice continues to be rather popular today and is an amusing pastime at any rate.


Of course, to enjoy this activity, you have to know how to read tea leaves. If this is something you are interested in, you will love this guide.

Here you will be able to unlock all the secrets of tasseography and try your hand at it. 

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.

tasseography

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.

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.

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.

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.

    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.

    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.

    So, have you given tasseography a try? If so, what did you think about it – were you happy with your reading? We would love to hear about your experiences in the comments below!

    Dheena Sadik

    Dr. Dheena Sadik

    Consultant Nutritionist and Dietician

    Author Bio

    Dr. Dheena Sadik is a consultant Nutritionist and Dietician. She has over a decade of experience in the health and fitness industry. However, her love for tea began long before she understood the health benefits of tea. Growing up in Sri Lanka, Dheena had the privilege of being surrounded by the world-famous Ceylon tea. This is what got her started on her exploration of the various types of tea. She has now extensively tasted and examined teas from all over the world.

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