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Tea leaves are the simplest of the psychic arts. Our grandmothers and great-grandmothers and their mothers and grandmothers who passed down the craft, usually through the female line, did not use complicated books with hundreds of meanings.

They could instinctively interpret pictures in the clouds, in the suds as they stood at the wash tub, in the embers of the fire or in a candle as they sat beside the bed of a sick child. So too as the matriarchs sat over a gold-embossed china or a Brown Betty earthenware teapot, they listened to what their children, grandchildren, neighbours or friends were saying with their hearts and not their lips and read their fortunes in the leaves. In industrial areas of Britain, the Brown Betty is the traditional teapot used for tea leaf reading, a plain dark brown pot. You may find one in an old fashioned hardware shop or even a car boot sale. 

Tea Leaf Reading is the most intimate of the psychic arts and while you can easily read your own leaves or those of others from a plastic cup at work or in a crowded café, as its best tasseography as it is called, takes place in a quiet warm room with tea, hot scones and lashings of intimate talk, gossip and laughter.

The Origins of Tea Leaf reading.

In Chinese tradition tea was used in China as early as 3000bc as one of the elixirs of long-life and, it was said, came out of an egg when the Divine Artisan was creating the world. According to Buddhist legend the first tea leaves came from the eyelids of the meditating Holy One who cut them off to prevent himself from falling asleep while he was meditating.

Tea was used for divination in the Orient from almost the beginning and the tea ceremonies still practised in Japan today have their roots in meditation and creating that quiet space in which insight can come spontaneously. From China the secrets of its cultivation and divination spread to India and Sri Lanka, the former Ceylon. From India, the Romany gypsies brought the magical art to Europe.

Tea did not arrive in England much before the middle of the seventeenth century and was very expensive, costing from £6- £10 per pound in the prices of that period. It was not until 1885 that tea from India and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) reached England in any quantity and so even in Victorian times tea was a great luxury, kept in a locked wooden box by the lady of the house.

But the art of divination from the dregs left behind in a cup or glass was practised in Europe much earlier. Wine dregs were consulted, a craft known as olinomancy. From early times too, peasant women made herbal brews for minor ailments and to preserve good health and afterwards leaves from the brews would be used by the family matriarch to discover the root cause of the distress.

Tasseography has remained primarily the art of the Romany Gypsy or the home rather than the professional clairvoyant. It can be accompanied by varying rituals as to the kind of cup and methods used, but in essence, tea leaf reading should be learned by practice rather than by rote and the questioner’s interpretation of identity of a symbol is invariably the right one.












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