What Is Tea Cup Reading?

Tea Cup Reading, aka Tasseography, may be a centuries old divination art, but it is a form of fortune telling you can try for yourself after enjoying a steaming cup of tea or coffee. Here's how! 

The best results are obtained by letting your imagination flow freely. The idea is to interpret shapes and symbols remaining in your cup, after drinking tea made with loose tea leaves or coffee made with fresh ground coffee.

There are established meanings for familiar shapes, which you can memorize. For instance, a musical symbol means good luck is coming.

Combining the traditional meaning with imagination and intuition will help you weave the story that is in the cup.

For the purpose of this guide to Tea Cup Reading I will refer only to tea. But very similar divinatory messages can be found in the leftover grinds of coffee (especially Turkish Coffee) as well as leftover sediment in wine glasses. 

How Do You Read Rea Leaves?

Tea Cup Reading

Making Tea

Use real tea leaves, not teabags. Make the tea in a teapot, using one rounded teaspoon of tea per person. Do not strain the tea, once you have brewed it, so that tea leaves remain in teapot.

Enjoy a cuppa and chat before the reading begins. This gives you an opportunity to observe the full cup of tea. If one tea leaf floats on the surface, the person is coming into money. A single tea leaf stuck on the side of the cup signifies a romance with a stranger will soon begin for the querent.

Ask your person, whose fortune you will read, to leave a little tea in their cup.

Note: If you perform Tea Cup Reading for the public, just skip the tea drinking. :-)

Preparation Ritual

Use a teacup, not a mug. Cups with a plain interior are preferred, as patterns may interfere with the reading. Ask the querent (person you are reading for) to use their left hand to swirl the tea in an anticlockwise direction three times. Still using their left hand, have the Enquirer place the cup upside down on the saucer and turn the cup three times in an anticlockwise direction. You will turn the cup right side up and peer into the cup for an overall first impression.

Reading the Cup


Hold the cup with handle facing the querent. Leaves in that area refer to your querent and events happening in this home. Strangers and events happening far away from their home are represented by leaves on the opposite side of the cup. 


The cup rim signifies the near future, halfway down the cup signifies events within a few months and leaves closer to the bottom indicates the distant future. These vertical signifiers can also relate to joys and contentment being near the rim of the cup; worries and sadness near the bottom.

Tea Leaf Symbols

There are plenty of books that will provide general meanings to the symbols your tea leaves take. Do you see a bird? That's lucky. How about an Angel? Good news is on the way. But for best results, use your own intuition. Look for a shape, what comes to your mind? Think of that shape and let a thought drop into your mind as to it's meaning. Relax with this, you are starting to release your psychic ability.

Tea Leaf Lore

  • A few drops of tea, lingering in the empty cup symbolize tears.
  • It is said only intuitive people request readings. They will hear good news. If you are compelled to read for someone, a warning of bad or sad news is contained in the tea leaves.
  • Stalks represent people, often strangers. Long, firm stalks exemplify men; short, thin stalks symbolize women. Slanted stalks show untrustworthy people.  
  • Dots always imply money.

Tasseography / Tea Cup Reading Books

Tea Leaf Reading For Beginners: Your Fortune in a Tea Cup - By Caroline Dow

Tea Leaf Reading: A Divination Guide for the Bottom of Your Cup -By Dennis Fairchild

Tasseography - By Mercedes Webb-Pullman

Wiki - Tasseography