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Tea Leaf Reading Symbols and Meanings.
Tea Leaf Reading: A Fortune in a China Cup
(c) Cheryl Lynne Bradley 2001-2013

Divining a fortune from tea leaves has probably been around as long as there has been tea - over five thousand years. Tea Leaf reading is also known as Tasseomancy or Tasseography and probably had its origins in ancient China. The Chinese would often read the dredges of their cups for symbols, omens or unusual patterns.

Tea Leaf reading is considered to be one of the most creative and intuitive forms of divination as much of the quality of the reading is based on the seer. Success in this divinatory art is often attributed to the seer's ability to concentrate. Concentration is important to enable the seer to see beyond the symbols and work with true intuitive knowledge or clairvoyance. A quiet and peaceful atmosphere is highly conducive to a good reading.

All that is required to begin is loose tea (1/2 teaspoon), hot water and a real cup and saucer. While each reader will develop their own style and what is suitable to them, here are some ideas on how to begin. It is always advisable to ground and protect yourself before doing any type of divinatory work and to always say what it is that you are seeing.

The seeker, who should be seated as near to the reader as possible, is asked to stir the loose tea and then place it in the cup. Tea should only be stirred with a spoon. If the leaves spill it is considered very fortunate. Hot water is now added and the seeker focuses on the future while stirring it. If bubbles float to the top it can mean a kiss or money coming to the seeker. If a stalk or leaf floats to the surface it indicates a visitor - a hard stem is a man and a soft one a woman. Placing the leaf or stalk on the back of your hand and hitting it with the other one until it falls off, will tell you how many days until the visitor arrives. It is not advisable to stir another persons tea as it can bring on an argument. The seeker then drinks the tea but leaves a small amount in the bottom of the cup. If the tea is too strong it shows a new friendship in the future but if it is too weak it indicates the end of one. The longer the seeker holds the cup and concentrates, the better the reading will be.

The residue in the cup is now swirled by the seeker three times clockwise. The seeker must then touch the edge of the saucer with the cup, wish a wish of the heart and turn it over immediately onto the saucer. This allows the tea to drain away before it is passed to the reader. If there is much sadness in the seekers future, the tears or drops of tea, will not drain away. If a star does not appear at the top of the cup then the wish will not be fulfilled.

The seeker hands the cup and saucer to the reader and the reader takes the cup with her right hand. The handle of the teacup represents the seekers If the reading is about work or business, the handle can represent that as well. The near, inner side of the cup contains the fortune. On the far, outer side of the cup are the thoughts and the issues that remain very much up in the air.

It is standard practice to view the cup as a time period of one month but some readers can see your whole lifetime. Things that are half way up will occur in two weeks, further down in three to four weeks. The top represents today and the rim is now. Symbols right at the rim represent the first thing in the morning. If it is a leaf or stalk at the rim it will be shocking news. Anything pooling at the bottom of the cup represents problems and is also timed as now.

The size and clearness of the image or symbol is very important. If they disappear immediately after being read it is indicative of things that are starting to no longer matter or be of significance. Stalks and sprigs represent people - tightly curled ones are male and loosely curled ones are female. If standing upright the stalks represent straightforward people unless there is some type of a weapon around them - then it is a warning to be careful of them. Crossed stalks indicated people who are annoyed and frustrated and the other symbols will clarify the reasons. Sideways stalks represent untrustworthy people.

There is some debate on what to do with the tea leaves once the reading is done. Thrown on the ground, they ward off evil spirits and if placed at the back of the fireplace or woodstove, they will ward off poverty.

ACORN - at the top means success and gain: At the bottom means good health.

AIRCRAFT - journey; if broken means danger of accident; can also mean a rise in position

ANCHOR - at top rest, stability, constancy; at bottom means clouded, inconstancy

APPLE - achievement

AXE - difficulties; if at top overcoming of difficulties

BABY - small worries

BAG - a trap; if open, escape

BALL - variable fortunes

BELL - unexpected news; good if near top

BIRDS - good news

BOAT - visit from a friend, protection

BOOK - if open it's good news; if closed you need to investigate something

BUSH - new friend or opportunities

BUTTERFLY - fickleness

CABBAGE - jealousy; with dots means at work

CANDLE - help from others

CAP - trouble

CAT - deceit, a false friend

CHAIN - engagement, a wedding

CHAIR - a guest

CIGAR - a new friend

CIRCLE - success, completion; with dots means a baby

CLOCK - better health

CLOUDS - trouble; with dots means many problems

COIN - money coming

COMB - an enemy

CROSS - suffering, sacrifice

CUP - reward

DAGGER - danger from self or others; beware

DISH - trouble at home

DOG - good friend; if at bottom friend needs help

DOOR - odd event

DUCK - money coming

EGG - good omen

ELEPHANT - wisdom and strength

ENVELOPE - good news

EYE - caution

FACE a change, may be a setback

FAN - flirtation

FEATHER - lack of concentration

FENCE - limitations, minor setbacks, not permanent

FINGER - emphasizes whatever sigh it points at

FIRE - at top achievement; at bottom danger of haste

FISH - good fortune

FLAG - danger

FLY - domestic annoyance

FORK - false flattery

FORKED LINE - decision

FRUIT - prosperity

GATE - opportunity, future success

GLASS - integrity

GLOW - a challenge

GOAT - be careful of enemies

GRAPES - happiness

GUN - anger

HAMMER - hard work needed

HAND - if open means friendship; if closed means an argument

HARP - love, hamony

HAT - improvement, especially in a new job

HAWK - jealousy

HEART - pleasure, love, trust

HORSE - if galloping means good news; if just the head means a lover

HORSESHOE - good luck

HOURGLASS - need to decide something

HOUSE - security

ICEBERG - danger

INSECT - problems are minor and you will easily overcome

JEWELS - gifts

KANGAROO - harmony at home

KETTLE - any illness is minor

KITE - wishes coming true

KNIFE - broken friendship

LADDER - promotion, a rise in life

LAMP - at the top means a feast; at the side means secrets revealed; at the bottom means postponement

LEAF - new life

LETTER - news

LINES - if straight means progress; if wavy means uncertain path

LION - influential friends

LOCK - obstacles

LOOP - avoid impulsive actions

MAN - near handle means a vistor

MASK - excitement; insecurity

MOUNTAIN - great goals but with many difficulties

MOUSE - theft

MUSHROOM - at top means journey or moving to the country; near bottom means rapid growth; if reversed means frustration

NAIL - injustice, unfairness

NECKLACE - complete, admirers; if broken means danger of losing a lover

NEEDLE - recognition, admiration

OAK - health, long life

OCTOPUS - danger

OSTRICH - travel

OWL - gossip, scandal

PALM TREE - success, honor

PARASOL - new lover

PARROT - a journey, but also can mean people talking

PIG - greed

PISTOL - danger

PURSE - at top means profit; at bottom means loss

QUESTION MARK - need for caution

RABBIT - need for bravery

RAKE - watch details

RAVEN - bad news

RING - at top means marriage or the offer of marrige; at bottom means long engagement; if broken means engagement broken off

ROSE - popularity

SAW - interference

SCALE - legal issues; if balanced means just result; if unbalanced means unjust result

SCISSORS - quarrals, possibly separation

SHEEP - good fortune

SHELL - good news

SHELTER - danger of loss or ill health

SHIP - worthwhile journey

SHOE - change for the better

SNAKE - an enemy, but also wisdom

SPIDER - reward for work

SPOON - generosity

STAR - health and happiness, hope

SUN - happiness, success, power

SWORD - arguments

TABLE - social gatherings

TENT - travel

THIMBLE - changes at home

TORTOISE - criticism, usually benefical

TOWER - disappointment

TREE - improvements

TRIANGLE - something unexpected

UMBRELLA - annoyances

URN - wealth and happiness

VASE - a friend needs help

VIOLIN - egotism

VOLCANO - harmful emotions

WAGON - a wedding

WASP - romantic problems

WATERFALL - prosperity

WHEEL - if complete means good fortune; if broken means disappointment

WINGS - messages

WOLF - jealousy

YOKE - domination

ZEBRA - adventure, especially overseas

Tea-Cup Reading, and the Art of Fortune-Telling by Tea Leaves
by A Highland Seer (c) Project Gutenberg (PDF)

Titanic Teas - Over 70 Premium Loose Teas

Have a Cuppa! - Herbal Teas (c) Atham Z 2001-2009

Reading Ordinary Playing Cards

More Reading Ordinary Cards

Another Method for Reading Ordinary Playing Cards

Simple Method for Reading Ordinary Cards

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This page was created October 27, 2001 and updated on 2012-06-13