Monday, February 11, 2013

My first tea leaf reading

The weather has become very cold in Wisconsin over the past few weeks. We have been lucky to have temperatures in the double digits! One way I've been trying to stay warm is to drink a lot of tea. For those who are interested, I've been drinking a lot of Stash MerryMint tea and Stash Licorice Spice tea.

Drinking all this tea inspired me to write something tea related. I've always been intrigued by people who read tea leaves, but have never had this done for me. Sometimes, as I finish a cup of tea, I will look in the bottom of the cup and think about the shapes I see. I've never taken it any further than that.

Trying to read my tea leaves (or whatever is left in the bottom of my cup) sounded like a fun experiment and good blog material. Aside from thinking I needed loose tea, I didn't know much about the process.

To help myself along, I decided to find some YouTube tutorials. Every time I need to learn how to do something, I head to YouTube. There are endless videos on how to read tea leaves there. The first video I ran across showed how to do this by tearing a regular tea bag. These instructions involved a lot of symbolism. I found it comparable to reading Tarot cards, with different placements for past, present, and future. I had always thought of just one design or shape showing up.

The shapes seemed somewhat open to interpretation, like looking at a Rorschach Test or clouds in the sky. So I looked up a series of charts so I would have help in deciphering what I was seeing. Here are a few of them:

Glossary of Tea Leaf Symbols & Meanings

Tea Leaves - Tea Leaf Symbols

Tea Leaf Reading


This woman gave a really nice overview of the process too. I know this video is kind of small, but it's worth watching:

You'll notice that she had a cool Victorian style teacup with symbols printed right on it. Here's a close-up photo of a similar teacup:

It would be awesome to use one of those, but I had to stick with what I had. Luckily, I found another video with instructions on how to choose the right teapot, teacup, and tea type for the process:

So the first thing I did was to choose a tea cup. It turned out that I had a teacup in just the right shape, complete with a saucer:

I chose to go with Stash Double Bergamot Earl Grey for my tea reading. I'm suddenly realizing how much I like the Stash brand. I chose this one, because it's a black tea and would therefore show up in the cup. Then I went through the process, hoping to see something like this:

Here's what I did see:

As the woman in the first video said, the image to the left of the cup's handle is past, middle is present, and right is future. So, I'll show you a close-up of each.


What I see in this is a curled animal or snake.


This could be a question mark or a hook.


I see a crown.

These are totally up for interpretation, but the one on the right looked clearly like a crown to me. After studying the shapes and interpreting them, I consulted the online symbol dictionaries. According to those:

1) Snakes are about as unpleasant as you'd imagine. Luckily, the coiled snake is in the past postition.

"This is an unpleasant sign of treachery, disloyalty, and hidden danger, sometimes caused by those whom you least suspect"

Sadly, that's spot on.

2) Hooks are an addiction or obsession. Question marks are the symbol of hesitancy or caution. The question mark definition makes a lot more sense than that of the hook, so I'm going to say that's a question mark. I have been hesitant/cautious in starting some new projects, and I'm not addicted or obsessed with anything as far as I'm aware!

3) Crowns symbolize the attainment of your highest ambition. Hey, you can't beat that! I do have some goals that I'd like to attain (the ones I'm being hesitant about starting), so that's a nice positive image to see.

This process wasn't at all difficult, so why not give it a shot? I'd be curious to hear about what you see, or even better, see a photo of it. What I saw actually made a lot of sense for my life.

I'm open to any other interpretations of what was in my teacup. If you're used to doing tea readings, and have experience in recognizing these symbols, I'd really like to hear from you! 


  1. What a cool idea for a post. I've only just been thinking about tea because I recently stumbled across this:

    I was all set to buy it but the shipping to Australia was $22.95! I'm sure a small bag of tea doesn't weigh very much! Oh well! Anyway, I'm strictly a lemon tea girl, so the idea of licorice tea doesn't really appeal to me - I would have just kept the bag unopened for the great packaging - but since you like the Stash Licorice Spice Tea, perhaps Poe's Midnight Blend might be just your... er... cup of tea! (Sorry. Hehe)

    I've never had a cup of tea where there were leaves to read. Even when I've had loose tea, it's always been poured with a strainer. Maybe I'll try splitting a tea bag open.

    By the way, if tea leaves are a Rorschach Test, the first thing I saw in yours were bats. Maybe I've just got bats on the brain! ;)

  2. My daughter had her tea leaves read once, and I remember the reading for her past was surprisingly accurate. As for her future, I can't remember what the woman said, so I couldn't tell you if she got that part right or not! :D

  3. Of all the methods of divination I've read about, this is one of the few that I've never actually investigated further, it's pretty interesting.

    I drink a lot of vanilla chai tea :)

  4. Little Gothic Horrors ~ Thanks! Oh, I love the Victorian Trading Company. I've been either getting their catalogs in paper form or by email for... probably around a decade! Yet, I've never bought anything. That tea is very cool. I'd like to try that, as a licorice fan. $22.95 shipping? Yeah, I'd pass on paying that too. Maybe you can find it elsewhere?

    It might be my cup of tea, eh? ;) Yeah, it's hard to pass up saying that! Stash licorice tea is very good. It makes a nice dessert tea, and might almost replace coffee for sweetness. Really? Lemon is the only flavor of tea you drink?

    I think you should give tea reading a shot! It wasn't at all hard to split the bag open. After drinking the tea, the process took maybe 2 minutes tops. Bats? Hmm... I'll have to look at my pics again. Why have you got bats on your brain?

    Insomniac's Attic ~ It would be fun to have someone else read my leaves for me. I've never had that opportunity. I'd know where to find Tarot readers and psychics, but not tea readers. I know my mom had her tea leaves read long ago, before I was born. I'm not sure how accurate her reading was.

    Dex ~ Yeah, there was a lot more to learn than I expected and I'm sure I was just scratching the surface today. It was interesting to learn about and a fun experiment to try. Reading through the symbols reminded me of reading a dream interpretation book. It was a similar list of objects and what they represent.

    I like Chai too! Have you tried the Good Earth brand of tea? They make some really spicy and flavorful tea that you might like as a Chai person.

  5. Very interesting post! I have always wanted to learn how to read tea leaves, but was never able to find any sort of clear (non-confusing) information. So much of what I had read on the subject was very vague. I do believe that tea reading is some what of a lost art - more people turn to tarot or other forms of divination. Thank you for all the links! I shall spend some time absorbing the knowledge and see what I come up with.....

  6. Jeanne ~ Thank you! :) Well, hopefully this information is clear enough to be of help. I mainly followed the instructions in the first video, and they didn't end up being too hard to follow. I totally agree about tea reading being a lost art. That's part of what intrigued me. Have fun with learning how to read tea leaves, and let me know if you see anything good. :)

  7. I tried googling the Poe's Midnight Blend but it seems that other than the Victorian Trading Company, only the manufacturer sells it online, and their shipping costs were even higher.

    I have a basket full of exotic teas in my cupboard but they're all Danny's. I just can't get into all the different tea flavours. I like the idea of them, but even the smell usually puts me off. Danny has a different tea every night, but I just stick with my lemon tea. I'm a fussy eater/drinker, I'm afraid. :)

    Haha. No particular reason for bats on the brain, just the way my mind seems to work. By the way, I meant to mention, I know you haven't seen 'Coraline', but there's a tea leaf reading scene in that movie.

  8. I'm thinking horse, chipmunk, butterfly :)

  9. I always think its like reading ink blots. ;) Years ago I worked with a woman who did tea readings. It was great fun and she was really good.


  10. Little Gothic Horrors ~ I did a bit of a search and found the Poe tea on Amazon, but it cost $1 more there than on the Victorian Trading Company site. This is the best deal I found:

    I'm not sure what their shipping is like. Who would think of a library foundation selling tea? I guess it makes sense with literary tea anyway. :)

    Do you guys get the Stash brand of tea? Danny should give that a shot, as the adventurous tea drinker!

    I know I'll see 'Coraline' at some point in my life. It's weird that I haven't yet!

    Matt ~ That goes to show how everyone's brain works differently! :) I didn't find any chipmunk symbolism, but a galloping horse means good news and a butterfly means transformation. So those are also positive symbols to see!

    Ali ~ Yeah, very much! What we see may mean something about what's in our heads already. Was your coworker's tea reading process similar to what's in the videos here?

  11. Justine - Thanks for looking those up!

  12. Matt ~ Sure! Maybe you should give tea reading a shot as well?

  13. Thanks so much for that link! :) I can't find whether they actually ship internationally, but regardless, they don't have Poe's Midnight Blend in stock at the moment. I checked out the one on Amazon too, but they don't seem to ship internationally. You've got me wondering if that literary tea might be available to buy at the art gallery shop here in Melbourne (they sell that sort of thing). I'll have to investigate that.

    I'll tell Danny about Stash tea. I don't think he's come across it before, but he does drink Celestial Seasonings tea, which is an American brand. :)

  14. Justine - I probably won't read tea leaves because I don't drink tea :) It's fun though! But regardless of how magical practices like this may or may not be, I've come to believe that your mind still needs to be positively engaged to keep your actions in alignment with your goals. So I try to keep my mind on track - which is not easy to do! Oh, and I'm two dollars up on the Lotto this year so it's working ;)

    By the way, I always thought you should design a deck of Tarot cards!

  15. Little Gothic Horrors ~ I gave ordering it a try too. Why would they make it look like the tea is in stock only to have a pop up saying it's not when you try to order it? They need to put a big SOLD OUT next to that product! Yeah, maybe the tea will be for sale at that shop near you. Perhaps a local bookstore would carry it too?

    I like Celestial Seasonings too! I had the best Peppermint tea from them recently, but I think that was only out for Christmas. I'd be interested to know if Stash is carried in Australia.

    Matt ~ Oh, well there ya go! I think some people do readings with coffee grounds too, but I haven't read up on that. I totally agree about keeping your mind open and positive. I think that is important in working with any divination tools. In my opinion, negative people need to stay away from Tarot decks and definitely Ouija Boards. If you're opening your mind and releasing what's in it into one of these tools, it better be positive! Hey, good luck with the lotto. I do think positive thinking works with winning things. I read a study once about people who consider themselves lucky and how they actually win more!

    You're not the first person to suggest that I design a deck of Tarot cards. I guess what's held me back is that there would be 78 cards to design and there is already a Halloween Tarot deck. I don't know if that means there can only be one, though. Any deck I would design would look totally different from the one that's out there!

  16. Justine I have been looking every where for licorice tea. It is something I can not find down here in the sticks. They say its good for Asthma during the winter. How does it taste is it strong? Also to me the middle picture looks like a monster chasing a dog, just saying. Stay warm and keep your cold air up north do not send it down here.

  17. Bob ~ Really? Well, it's not all that easy to find here. Although you can find the Stash brand at most grocery stores and Target, the licorice tea is more difficult to find. Your best bet is a Woodman's store. Those stores are actually only in your state and mine. I checked for your nearest store and it's 39 miles away (in North Aurora) So you'd probably be better off buying it online. I'll send you a sample so you can see if you even like it.

    For me, the tea has the perfect level of flavor. Some people might find it strong. It's not just like a cup of hot water, like some of those boring teas. :) It has a nice odor to it too.

    "a monster chasing a dog" Haha! I don't even want to know what that means. :) I guess so long as I'm not the dog in this situation, it's all good!

    You haven't been hit by the deep freeze yet? I'd like the cold to move out of here, but I'll try to keep it from coming in your direction. ;)

  18. This looks like a fun project for me to try. I always wondered how they were able to read tea leaves. Your post cleared up some questions.

  19. Julie ~ Good! Doing the research for this post cleared up some questions for me too. I thought the process would be a lot more complicated than it was. If you end up giving this a try, let me know!

  20. Hmm never heard of woodman's but make the trip to Aurora quite a bit. Sounds like we will get our first real snow Thursday! I don't think we have had 5" all winter in total!!

  21. Bob ~ Oh, Woodman's is awesome! In fact, I was just there today. You can find pretty much anything you're looking for there and the prices are really great. Whenever I think of Aurora, I'm reminded of Wayne's World. :) I'm not sure of the exact total of snow we've had so far, but probably a few feet. It was so incredibly cold here today that said it felt like -10 degrees!