When I was little, I can vividly remember my Aunt Eva reading tea leaves, all the women used to gather around and listen to what she had to say.  

I cannot remember whether to cup and saucer she used was a special one, one that was manufactured by the potteries for this type of divination or it was one of her simple porcelain china cup and saucer.  Aunty would always have a doily present, to mop up any spills from the tea cup.  Now these sacred geometric patterns are classed as ‘Shabby Chic’, but the importance of these and the tea cup are deep rooted, as a good friend Paul and mentor has said, “a wiccan doily, being representative of a neural geomantra, or the psycho schematic, that is given by the witch,through the written grimoire,verbal geomantra,or ritual in performance”. (Paul Welsh, June 2016)

Having had a little natter Hubby, about this, he told me his nan too, used to read tea leaves.  We now live in an era where we hunt and capture (pocket) monsters using our mobile phones, practicing fortune telling using tea leaves at the bottom of the cup seems a bit absurd!

For Centuries, People Have Searched For Answers In The Bottom Of A Tea Cup

Unknown.jpegIs this a tradition now lost?

Trying to divine what the future holds is an ancient human preoccupation. And for centuries, soothsayers have sought answers in the bottom of a teacup.  The art of reading tea leaves is referred to as Tasseography (or Tasseomancy) and is a divination or fortune-telling method that in western tradition interprets patterns in tea leaves.  The beverage, Tea, is linked with herbology part of alternative healing and tea reading began to make its mark in popularity during the 17th century when tea was introduced into Europe from China.  When tea first made its way into Britain from China in the mid-17th century, it was an aristocratic beverage, but as trade fueled falling prices, the general population began drinking it.  Already culturally superstitious, lower classes were quick to use tea leaves instead of some of their cumbersome and often dangerous methods of divination, such as the use of molten metal (molybdomancy), hot wax (carromancy) or the entrails of animals (haruspicy). Tea leaf reading is still today classed as an art of the Romany /Gypsy, no doubt it is an ancient practice interpreting patterns made by tea leaves in the cup.   

Reading Tea Leaves, by a “Highland Seer,” is the oldest book on the subject in English. Written in the 18th century, it offered sets of symbols to interpret tea-leaf patterns. The book talks about generations of Scottish “spae wives” (from the Norse spa, meaning “prophecy”) peering into their tea cups to tell of things to come.  According to a wikipedia entry on this subject Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England have produced a number of practitioners and authors on the subject, and English potteries have crafted many elaborate tea cup sets specially designed and decorated to aid in fortune-telling. (Wiki, 2016).

So, I thought I would try and locate some of these cups which were manufactured via the Potteries.  This fabulous website The Mystic Tea Room has a wealth of information on these beautiful divinity cups and is well worth a visit.   http://www.mystictearoom.com/wiki/Main_Page

Aynsley Nelros Cup of Fortune.jpg

Aynsley is a reputable English manufacturer of quality bone china, the company was founded by John Aynsley in Staffordshire, 1775. This is an outstanding piece named the “Nelros Cup of Fortune.” This teacup is said to be from 1904.  Like most fortune telling teacups this one comes with a fancy little instruction booklet titled “Would’st learn thy future with thy tea?… This magic cup will show it thee.” this also appears on the outside of the teacup.

The Paragon Fortune Telling Teacup

Paragon is another recognisable English producer of quality china, it was founded by Herbert Aynsley (the great grandson of John Aynsley) and Hugh Irving in 1897. This teacup dates from the 1930s and usually is seen in either blue or pink. Along the rim of the interior it reads “Many curious things I see when telling fortunes in your tea.” I’m sure there must be a book to accompany this teacup.   A variety of symbols are scattered about the inside of the cup, these are usually coloured fuchsia but the one pictured appears to be a reddish-brown colour.

alfred meakin.jpg
The Alfred Meakin Cup of Knowledge

Alfred Meakin Ltd began producing china in 1875. This Cup of Knowledge dates back to 1924 and has a distinct look that separates it from the aforementioned fortune teacups, it depicts playing cards instead of symbols. Here Cartomancy has joined forces with Tasseography to provide the reader with an enlightening divinatory experience. In this instance you would use the location of the tea leaves in relation to the cards to determine what the future could hold.

Royal Doulton Teacup swastika.jpg
The Royal Doulton Swastika

Royal Doulton’s popularity, is particularly know from their whimsical china figurines, but this is  a rare find.  Fancy see a teacup with a swastika at the bottom of it.  This was before Hitler turned the symbol into a pile of ungodly puke, it was recognised as a symbol of good fortune, which gives u a decent indication of just how old this cup is.

Cannonsburg Pottery.jpg
Cannonsbury Pottery Chinese Cup of Knowledge




1950’s typical stereotyping tea cup and saucer


Tea leaf reading is a fun, healthful and creative way to listen to yourself and open your psychic abilities.

The term also refers to the reading of coffee grounds, especially in the Middle Eastern tradition, by using the left-over coffee grounds from Turkish coffee turned over onto a plate.

The term has also been applied to the reading of wine sediments. The term derives from the French word tasse (cup), which in turn derives from the Arabic tassa (cup).

The Tea Cup’s Fortune-Telling by Harry Roseland (1906, dated and signed at middle right; this is a postcard version of the painting)

How To Read Leaves

Tasseography, otherwise known as tasseomancy or tassology, is the art of tea leaf reading. “Tasse” or “tass” is an Arab root, meaning small cup or goblet.

You need to find a cup with a wide brim that’s light in colour, find a wide saucer. Pour in lose tea leaves/coffee (you can buy loose tea leaves or rip open a tea bag) into you cup and add boiling water (Do Not add milk) Drink your tea/coffee while thinking about your question, if you dont like tea/coffee take a few sips. When you are finished drinking take the cup in your dominant hand and place your non-dominant handover the top of your cup. Turn the cup tree times in a clockwise direction. Pour any remaining water down the sink. Place the cup upside down on the saucer or a napkin and turn it clockwise three times, turn the cup over look for the leaves that have taken shapes. When you have finished your reading it is customary to turn your cup over, place your index finger on the base of your cup and make a wish.

Ronald Weasley: “Right. What can you see in mine?

Harry Potter: “A load of soggy brown stuff.“— Harry Potter’s first attempt at tessomancy

Begin reading at the handle (or at 12 o’clock if there is no handle) and progress clockwise.




You can twist and turn the cup for new angles to find symbols in your cup, the closer the symbol is to the rim of the cup the sooner it will happen. the further down the longer it will take, tea reading can only predict up to a year. symbols at the bottom of your cup will take almost a whole year to take effect.




  1. If two spoons were accidentally placed in one saucer, there would be news of twins
  2. If a spoon is accidentally placed upside down in a saucer their will be news of a close relative becoming ill.
  3. A single leaf floating on a full cup of tea means that the inquirer would come into some money.
  4. A single leaf stuck inside a full cup signifies the news of a stranger entering the enquirers life
  5. If the leaves are stacked opposite the handle, trouble is on its way.
  6. If the leaves are stack by the handle, trouble is on its ways and the inquirer is to blame.

f807b185933b411eaf68dc79f16d96cb.jpgCommon Shapes

Abbey Freedom from worry

Ace of Clubs A letter

Ace of Diamonds A present

Ace of Hearts Happiness

Ace of Spades A large Building


Acorn Financial Success

Aircraft Sudden Journey

Alligator An accident

Anchor Success in business and romance

Angel Good news

Ankle Instability

Ant success through perseverance

Anvil conscientious effort

Apple Business achievement

Arc Ill health, accidents

Arrow Bad News

Axe Difficulties and troubles that will be overcome

Bat False Friends

Bath Disappointment

Bayonet A minor accident

Beans Poverty

Bear A Journey

Bed Inertia


Bee Good news

Beehive Prosperity


Beetle Scandal

Bell Unexpected news

Bellows Setbacks
Bird Good news

Birds Ascension, good news

Birdcage Obstacles, quarrels

Bird’s Nest Domestic harmony

Bishop Good luck coming

Boat Visit from a friend

Book Open Expect legal actions, future success

Boomerang Envy

Boot Achievement

Bottle Pleasure

Bouquet Love and happiness

Bow Scandal, gossip

Box Romantic troubles solved

Bracelet Marriage

Branch With Leaves A birth

Bread Avoid waste

Broom Small worries disappear

Buckle Disappointments ahead

Building A move

Bull Quarrels

Bush New Friends

Butterfly Frivolity

Baby Pregnancy, something new

Ball Completion

Butterfly Transition

Cabbage Jealousy


Cage A Proposal

Camel Useful news

Candle Help from others

Cannon news from a solider

Cap Trouble ahead- be Careful

Car Good fortune

Cart Success in business

Castle Financial gain through marriage



Unknown.jpegCat A quarrel

Cattle Prosperity

Chain An engagement or wedding

Chair An unexpected guest

Cherries A happy love affair

Chessmen Difficulties ahead

Chimney Hidden risks

Church Ceremony Unexpected money

Cigar New friends

Circle Success, a wedding

Circles great success

Claw A hidden enemy

Clock Avoid delay, think of the future

Clouds Trouble ahead

Clover Prosperity

Coat A parting, an end of a friendship

Coffin Bad news
Coin Repayment of debts

Collar Dependence on others for success and happiness

Column Promotion

Comb Deceit

Comet An unexpected visitor

Compass Travel, a change of job

Corkscrew Curiosity causing trouble

Crab An enemy

Crescent A journey

Cross Trouble, ill health

Crown Honour, success

Cup Reward for effort

Curtain A secret

Cymbal Insincere love

China engagement

Chair A guest

Clock Better Health

Unknown-1.jpegDaffodil Great Happiness

Dagger Danger ahead, enemies

Daisy Happiness in love

Dancer Disappointment

Deer A dispute or quarrel

Desk Letter containing good news

Devil Evil influences

Dish Quarrel at home

Dog good friends

Donkey be patient

Door Strange occurrence

Dot money

Dove Good fortune

images.pngDragon Unforeseen changes, trouble

Drum Scandal, gossip, a new job, argument

Duck money coming in

Dustpan Strange news about a friend

Eagle a change for the better


Ear unexpected news

Earrings misunderstanding

Easel artistic success

Egg Prosperity

Eggcup Danger is passing

Elephant Wisdom, strength

Engine news is on its way fast

Envelope good news

Eye overcoming difficulties, take care

Face setback

falero_luis_ricardo_lily_fairy_1888Fairy joy and enchantment

Fan Flirtation

Feather Instability

Feet An important decision

Fence limitation

Fern Disloyalty

Fir Artistic success

Fire achievement

Fireplace Matters related to your home

Fish Good fortune in all things, health, wealth and happiness


Fist An argument

Flag Danger ahead

Flower Wish coming true

Fly Domestic irritations

Font A birth

Fork A false friend, flattery

Forked line Decision to be made

Fountain Future success and happiness

Fox A deceitful friend

Frog Success through a change of home or job

Fruit Prosperity

Gallows Social Failure

Garden roller Difficulties ahead

Garland Success, great honour

Gate Opportunity, future happiness

tea leaf reading 01.jpgGeese invitations, unexpected visitors

Giraffe Think before you speak

Glass Integrity

Glove A challenge

Goat enemies

Gondola Romance, travel

Gramophone Pleasure

Grapes Happiness

Grasshopper News from a friend

Greyhound Good fortune

Guitar Happiness in love

Gun Trouble, quarrels

Hammer Overcoming obstacles

Hand Friendship

Handcuffs Trouble ahead

Hare News of a friend

Harp Harmony in love

Hat A new occupation

Hawk Sudden Danger, jealousy

Head New opportunities

Heart Love and marriage, a trustworthy friend

Heather Good fortune

Hen Domestic Bliss

Hill Obstacles, setback

Hoe Hard work leading to success

Holly An important occurrence in the winter

Horn Abundance

Unknown.jpegHorse Galloping Good news from a lover

Horseshoe Good Luck

Hourglass A decision that must be made

House Security


Iceberg Danger

Initials Usually those of people you known to you

ink pot A letter

insect Minor problems soon overcome

Ivy leaf Reliable friend

Jester Party or social Gathering

Jewelry A present

Jug Gaining in importance, good health

Kangaroo Domestic Harmony

Kettle Minor Illness

Key New opportunities

Keyhole Beware of idle curiosity

King A powerful ally

Kite Wishes coming true

Knife Broken relationship

Ladder Promotion

Lamp Money

Leaf Prosperity, good fortune

Leopard News of a journey

Letter News

Letters Usually refer to friends, family, and people you know

Unknown.jpegLighthouse Trouble threatening

Lines straight and clear Progress, journey

Lines wavy Uncertainty, disappointment

Line slanting Business failure

Lion Influential friends

Lock Obstacles in your path

Loop Impulsive actions could bring trouble

Man A visitor

Map Travel and change

Mask Deception

Medal A reward

Mermaid Temptation

Monkey A flattering mischief-maker

Monster Terror

Monument Lasting happiness

Moon Full A love affair

Mountain Obstacles, high ambition

Mouse Theft

Mushroom Growth, setback

Music Good fortune

Nail Malice

Necklace complete Admirers

Necklace broken The end of a relationship

Needle Admiration

Net A Trap


Numbers Indicate a timescale, the number of days before an event occurs

Numbers indicates time, months and years


Nun Quarantine

Nurse Illness

Nutcrackers Difficulty is passing

Oak Good fortune

Oar A small worry, help in difficulties

Octopus danger

Opera Glasses A quarrel, loss of a friend

Ostrich Travel

Owl Gossip

Oyster Courtship, acquired riches

Padlock open A surprise

Padlock Closed A warning

Palm Tree Success, honour, happiness in love

Parachute Escape from danger

Parasol A new lover

Parcel A surprise

Parrot A scandal, a journey

Peacock Riches

Pear Comfort

Pentagon Intellectual Balance

Pepper A troublesome secret

Pig Material success

Pigeon sitting An improvement in trade

Pigeon Flying Important news

Pillar Supportive friends

Pipe Thoughts, solution to a problem, keep an open mind

Pistol Danger

Pitchfork Quarrels

Policeman Secret enemy

Pump Generosity

Purse Profit

Pyramid Success

Question Mark Hesitancy, caution

Rabbit Timidity, be brave

Railway Long journey


Rainbow Happiness, prosperity

Rake Be organised

Rat Treachery

Raven Bad News

Razor Quarrels, partings

Reptiles Treacherous friend

Rider Hasty news
Ring Completion

Rocks Difficulties

Rose Popularity

Saucepan Anxieties

Saw Interfering outsider

Scales A lawsuit

Scepter Power, authority

Scissors Domestic arguments, separation

Scythe Danger

Shamrock Good Luck, wish coming true

Sheep Good fortune

Shell Good news

Ship Successful journey

Shoe A change for the better

Sickle Disappointment in love

Signpost Draws attention to the symbol to which it points to

Skeleton Loss of money, ill health

Snake Hatred, an enemy   DNA, wisdom, or if the snake is attacking, an enemy

Spade Hard work leads to success

Spider Determined and persistent, money coming

Spoon Generosity

Square A symbol of protection, comfort, peace
, use caution

Squirrel Prosperity, after a hard time

Star Good health

Steeple Slight delay, bad luck

Unknown-2.jpegSteps An improvement in life

Sun Happiness, success, power

Swallow Decisiveness, unexpected journeys

Swan Smooth progress, contented life

Sword Disappointment, quarrels

Table Social gathering

Teapot Committee meeting

Telephone Forgetfulness causes trouble

Taxi Disappointment

Telescope Adventure

Tent Travel

Thimble Domestic changes

Toad Beware of flattery

Torch A turn for the better

Tortoise Criticism

Tower Opportunity, disappointment

Tree Changes for the better

Triangle Something unexpected

Triangles Good Karma

Trunk A long journey, fateful decisions

Umbrella Annoyances



Unicorn A secret wedding



Urn Wealth, happiness

Vase A friend in need

Vegetables unhappiness followed by contentment

Violin Egotism

Volcano Emotions out of control

Vulture Loss, theft, an enemy in authority

Wagon A wedding

Walking Stick a visitor

Wasp trouble in love

Waterfall prosperity

Weather Vane a difficulty, indecisiveness

Whale business success

Wheel good fortune

Wheelbarrow a meeting with an old friend

Windmill business success

Window open good luck through a friend

Window closed disappointment through a friend

Wings messages

Wishbone a wish granted

Wolf Jealousy, selfishness

Woman Pleasure

Worms Scandal

Wreath Happiness ahead

Yacht Pleasure

Yoke Being dominated

Zebra Overseas adventure

Here’s the link to interpreting the symbols: – http://tasseography.com/symbol.html

So back to the future…

Those hoarse-voiced traveling gypsies or dark-hooded mysterious figures with crystal balls (I’m exaggerating here), are now known to practice the art.  I

While the goal of this rather long blog is not to persuade anyone to practice tasseography, there’s nothing wrong in trying it every once in a while. It would be a fun, interesting, and relaxing activity for a tea party, regardless of the accuracy.  It could also be used as a way to try meditation – either individually or in a group. The Japanese are known to use tea ceremonies as a form of meditation.  And the most important reason for the tea lovers among us, you can use tasseography as an excuse to enjoy more tea!

Twiggie Truth, 2016

Sources and further reading

The Mystic Tea Room

Tea cup reading: A quick and easy guide to Tasseography