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Fortune In a Cup of Tea

Although many people prefer a simple white cup for tea leaf reading, there are also traditions concerning the positional placement of the leaves in the cup, and some find it easier to work with marked cups. Beginning in the late 19th century and continuing to the present, English and American potteries have produced specially decorated cup and saucer sets for the use of tea-leaf readers. Many of these designs are patented and come with instructions explaining their mode of use. Some of the most common were those that were given away with purchases of bulk tea.

There are dozens of individual designs of fortune tellers' cups, but the three most common types are zodiac cups, playing card cups, and symbol cups

Zodiac cups - These sets contain zodiacal and planetary symbols. Typically the interior of the cup contains the planetary symbols, while the saucer has the astrological sign symbols, but there are many variations and exceptions to this common pattern. The placement of these symbols allows the reader to combine astrology with tasseography

Playing card cups - These cups carry within their interiors tiny images of a deck of scattered cards, either 52 cards plus a joker, as in a poker deck, or 32 cards, as in a euchre deck. Some sets also have a few cards imprinted on the saucers, or the saucers may contain brief written card interpretations. The playing cards permit the reader to creatively relate cartomancy to tasseography.

Symbol cups - These sets are decorated with between a dozen and fifty of the most common visual cues that can be found in tea leaves, often numbered for easy reference and supplied with an explanatory booklet. The symbols are generally displayed inside the cups, but there are also sets in which they decorate the outside or appear in the cups and on the saucers.

As the popularity of tea drinking increased, it was noticed that the dregs left in a cup after drinking formed patterns. These resembled everyday images and symbolised 'character' and 'destiny'. Thus the art of Tasseomancy was born.


Simple Do-it- Yourself steps reading the ART

  • Brew loose leaf tea in a pot and pour; unrestrained, into your cup.
  • Drink all but the last sip, leaving a teaspoon of tea and the leaves in your cup.
  • Swirl the tea and leaves three times counter clockwise.
  • Turn the cup over and place on the saucer.  Wait for the tea to drain out.
  • Turn the cup right side up and examine the pattern of the leaves.
  • Leaves near the top deal with the near future, leaves on the bottom of the cup, the distant future.  Leaves near the handle are said to relate to the home.
  • The formation of symbols in the leaves is used to tell the future. 

The tea party is a spa for the soul. You leave your cares and work behind. Busy people forget their business. Your stress melts away, your senses awaken...
Alexandra Stoddard

Symbols & Shapes

Symbols & Their Interpretation
Triangle inheritance
Ladder promotion
Star good luck
Ring marriage
Tree success, happiness
Cow prosperity
Dog a good friend
Cat treachery
Umbrella shelter
Shape/ Symbol & Their Description /Interpretation
Baby Financial problems of a minor nature Ball Changes are imminent
Bat Rivalry; unforeseen problems. Bell Welcome news.
Bird A good luck omen signifying improved circumstances. Boat A change of plans/ unexpected trip. Successful business negotiations.
Book If closed, the end of a relationship. If open, proceed with your plans. Bottle Protection from danger.
Branch A birth in the family. Butterfly A frivolous occasion.
Cabbage A time of change, usually for the better. Cactus Courage and perseverance. 
Candle A new friendship. Cat Guard against deception and avoid doubtful deals.
Chain A symbol of love or marriage. Circle Successful conclusion to a project.
Clock A time of reassessment; plan ahead more carefully. Clover Good future prospects.
Coffin Failure in business. Conch Shell News from abroad brings improvements.
Crescent Moon A friend's advice proves helpful. Cross A sacrifice.
Cup A good omen denoting bounty; a new friendship. Dagger Warning to beware of false friends.
Dog A trustworthy friend; fidelity. Drum An exciting and unexpected invitation.
Duck Financial help from a friend. Egg Beneficial change and new projects.
Eye Careful planning will pay dividends. Fan Guard against indiscretion.
Fish An omen of good luck. Hammer A challenging situation that demands strength.
Heart Reliable friend, or a proposal of marriage. Kite Unexpected difficulties.
Ladder A new venture will prove successful. Lines If straight and unbroken : success. If wavy or broken: disruption. If parallel: an important journey.
Loop Confusion or entrapment. Mouse Neglected opportunities or loss. 

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