Understanding How To Read Tea Leaves and What The Symbols Mean

Also known as tasseomancy, a tea leaf reading is a divination practice dating back thousands of years. This is a process of interpreting the patterns and symbols of remaining tea leaves or coffee grounds that are left in a cup. A long time ago, readings were even made from splatters of melted wax before the process evolved into what it is today.

While performing a reading on yourself proves difficult to do objectively with any type of divination, it is really up to personal preference and many people do practice this ritual on themselves.

If you want to start practicing this art, you should start by studying the different major symbols that can appear from the leaves.

Tea Leaf Symbols

tea leaves

Each of these symbols has general meanings to start with, but it is important to remember to still keep the posed question as that can change the meaning and uncover a different path. Symbols and interpretations can change between different types of divination, so for example these have much different meanings than some used in dream explanation.

Some of the major symbols to look out for are:

  • Anchor – This can mean good fortune in your work life or love life.  Keep in mind that if this symbol appears blurred or clouded, it will mean the opposite.
  • Birds – These can mean good luck, or possibly good travels.
  • Clouds – These mean significant difficulties.  However, if there are dots surrounding the clouds, this means monetary wealth.
  • Goat – You may encounter an enemy.
  • Hourglass – This indicates upcoming danger.
  • Lines – A line can indicate a journey, and the direction your path may take.  Crooked lines mean tough travels while straight lines mean peacefulness and happiness.
  • Sword – This can mean an argument taking place between lovers.  There are many, many symbols out there, so don’t limit yourself to studying just the ones listed here.

How to Read Tea Leaves – Part 1

tea cups

These are the first steps to complete a successful tea leaf reading.

  1. Start by brewing your choice of your favorite tea or coffee.

When preparing your tea, make sure to brew it the old-fashioned way (no straining!) so your cup has quite a few tea leaves.  If you are a coffee drinker, brew your coffee normally and simply add a pinch of coffee grounds to you will be able to do a reading.

  1. Sit and enjoy your tea.

This is an important part of the ritual.  The key is to relax and let your thoughts come together.

  1. Keep an eye out for early signs before your reading even begins.

For example, if there are leaves floating around the surface of the tea it can be interpreted as you should be expecting visitors in the near future.  Another example is the placement of an upside down spoon, which can mean that someone close to you may be sick.

  1. Finish drinking your tea.

Make sure the bottom of your cup still has a little bit of tea remaining.  Stir the tealeaves three times (clockwise) with your right hand while holding the cup in your left.  Ensure that all of the leaves are moved around the cup.

How to Read Tea Leaves – Part 2

tea leaf symbols and meanings

Now we are getting into the actual reading. If you need to, keep a symbol guide or resource nearby for consultation.

  1. Hold the cup in such a way that the handle is pointing in the direction of the person asking the questions.

This will indicate that the leaves are read in respect to the location of the cup’s handle.

  1. Take note of the location of the scatterings of leaves, as different positions pertain to different aspects of a person’s life.

Leaves that lie to the left of the handle bespeak the past while leaves to the right of the handle reveal future events.  The more distance between the leaves and the handle indicates a further distance for the events (in time or physicality).

  1. Look inside the cup for any initial signs.

There are several distinct signs that can stand out at first. For example, a large clumping of leaves points to distress.  If the clump is located close to the handle, the distress is caused by you (and vice versa, so if it is across from the handle it will not be your doing).

  1. Begin reading the leaves.

Look for any of the symbols listed above, or any others you may know.  Usually it is the shapes of the leaves themselves that are interpreted, but there are some people that also interpret the shapes of the empty space created by the leaves on the cup itself.

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