Peering at tea leaves to foresee the future (Tasseomancy) is a form of divination originating in the 16th century as tea gained popularity in Europe. In the Middle Ages fortune telling had included reading drips of wax and splashes of lead in water. Ancient texts suggest the Chinese were searching in the dregs of their tea cups for signs and omens from antiquity.
Interpreting the symbolic patterns in teacups is a full-time job for Amy Taylor, founder of The Art of Tea and Tasseomancy in Hamilton, Ont. She is one of a line of Irish and English tea readers that spans five generations.
“Tea leaf reading is among the most accessible of divinatory systems,” she explains. “Tasseomancy requires nothing more than an open mind, a plain cup, a bit of tea, and a quiet receptive mood.”
A good fortune teller has the insight and absurdness of a counselor, an ease in communicating with strangers, compassion, a keen sense of personal intuition, a genuine desire to aid those who are in need of answers and or guidance, and of course, the skill to see all there is to be seen in the leaves, Taylor says.
Enquirers out on a lark are often the most surprised at what the leaves reveal, said Taylor who charges $30 for a 20- to 40-minute session. Others visit with a troubling question they seek to answer, while a few become regular customers, returning again and again.
A good listener, Taylor does not shy away from advice “but intuition based on the reading” guides her observations. “Don’t take it as gospel,” she reminds seekers. “No one controls the future. What you see is more of a glimpse of what it could be.”
How it’s done
Use a small single serving teapot and one heaped teaspoon of tea to make a pot of tea as you usually would. Steep as long you choose, according to the type of tea you are using, said Taylor.
“My personal preference is smaller leaf teas. The ‘teas’ (tisanes) that I have used the last several years are peppermint and Rooibos. I like them because the leaves are much smaller and give a great spread in the cup. Neither has caffeine and both are easier for my clients to drink since they are normally consumed without adding anything (milk, sugar, honey). ”
“CTC works well too, but breaks down too quickly and can get murky. I prefer herbals because I usually make a large pot of tea (8-10 cups) for parties. The leaves often sit in the pot for half an hour or more and Rooibos and peppermint do not get bitter,” she said.
“Once brewed, pour the cup of tea into a plain teacup, not a mug, without straining the leaves and have your enquirer sip their tea,” explains Taylor.
“The Enquirer is to leave a tiny bit of liquid (about a 1/4 inch) above the tea leaves in the bottom of the cup. Once they reach that point, the reader then takes the cup and saucer and swirls the tea vigorously around the cup and then tips the contents onto the tea saucer. The reader then peers into the cup and begin the reading,” said Taylor who annually teaches five or six beginning courses in tea leaf reading.
Shapes and impressions
When interpreting the tea leaves, it’s not just about the symbols, it is also about the white space between the leaves, the location in the cup that the leaves land and what my gut instinct is telling me, she explains.
“This is not as simple as it sounds,” said Taylor.
Recently she has been seeing a lot of circles and anchors. “Circles are always completions, accomplishments being met and the ‘full circle’ in many situations. Of course, it all depends on what is surrounding the circles to give a hint as to what it is in reference too. Anchors are the other symbols that I have been noticing a lot lately as well. They to me mean literally to be anchored by a situation, to be an anchor for someone or someone being an anchor for you,” said Taylor.
Taylor said enquirers take tea readings quite seriously, because “It’s real!”
“I have had many of my clients come back to me and tell me that the things I see in the readings are true! I am still amazed by the wonderful feedback my clients give me,” she said.
“It is a positive and enriching experience for both them and me, and that is how I know that my readings are real not only for me, but for my clients as well,” said Taylor.
“Recently I got confirmation from one client that I had seen earlier this year. In her reading I saw that she would conceive her third child within three to six months. She got pregnant three months after I saw her, she’s due in March 2013,” she said.