What is tasseography? Tea leaf reading! The word tasseography literally breaks down to mean “cup writing.” Also known as tasseomancy or tassology, it’s the divination art of interpreting symbols and pictures formed by loose tea.
Where did you learn? I’m self taught. Decades ago in high school, my mom bought me my first loose tea and strainer as a Christmas gift. When the strainer opened during steeping, tea leaves floated everywhere. I drank it anyway and when I saw the shapes in the cup created by my tea, I recognized distinct pictures. But my “training” to look for patterns predates even this incident. Growing up, my dad and I used to play “scribble art.” Basically, we would each close our eyes and scribble all over a page. Then we traded scribbles and used colored pencils to find shapes in the mess and make art from it. There are a few books on tasseography out there, however I can tell you many of them contradict each other and some seem almost unrelatable in the modern world. It’s my experience that tasseography is a very personal divination art. My approach is unique to my way of seeing, and my meanings for various shapes and symbols are my own. If you come to a reading, you can expect me to intuitively read both the solid shapes and blank space, interpreting each seeker’s cup individually.
How does a reading work? During a regular in-person session, you will drink a cup of tea. The tea has to be loose in the cup and I use specific cups. When you have finished almost the entire cup, I’ll show you how to turn it to create the images I’ll read. At this point, the seeker - you - will give me the cup and I will draw a picture of the story in your leaves. When I complete the drawing, I will offer you my interpretation of the symbols in your cup. You will keep the drawing as a record of the tasseograph.
Currently, with remote readings, you will have to drink your tea at home, turn the cup and send me specific photos. You can get a basic chart of the major symbols in the cup for $20 or a full drawing and 1-page typed interpretation of the symbols for $60.
Is this like I saw on Harry Potter/Outlander? Yes! In Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban, Professor Sybill Trelawney expresses alarm when she reads the form of a spectral dog in Harry’s teacup, The Grim, foretelling his death. The Outlander series opens with a tea leaf reading by Mrs. Graham, who predicts Claire will travel great distances, but also stay in the same place. Back in 2002, there was also a tea leaf reading on Friends.
What is the history of tasseography? The truth is no one knows exactly how old this practice might be. Drinking tea dates back to many centuries BC. Some historians believe tea leaf reading originated in China, India, or the Middle East. We do know it arrived in Europe via the Silk Road. The Silk Road trade routes criss-crossed between East and West from 2 BC through the 18th century. When tea first made its way into Europe in the 1600s, it was an aristocratic beverage. Enterprising tea parlor purveyors soon found ways to offer tea to the general population by thinning the leaves with other things. Tea leaf reading took off in Europe, as methods of divination such as reading the shapes formed by molten metal (molybdomancy), hot wax (carromancy) or the entrails of animals (haruspicy) were already known to the public. The Spiritualist movement also launched around the Victorian era. People became obsessed with the occult, divination, and death. Tasseography thrived, reaching its American and European heyday (at least so far) during the 1800s. 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 to tell of things to come.
Is tasseography a way to tell the future? When I read a cup, I see a deep reflection of who you are and the moment of your life you exist in now. A lot of very personal things can come up, sometimes you will be called to tend to challenges you’d rather avoid. It’s not unusual for seekers to react emotionally to the symbols and messages in their cup. Tasseography can offer nudges, but is not a 100% “fortune telling” method. Please note, as a disclaimer, I am not a therapist, life coach, financial advisor, medical doctor/nurse, or psychologist. If you a consulting a tea cup but really need other services, be aware that no divination method can offer what you truly need. I am not qualified to give medical, legal, or financial advice.
I have a food allergy, is this okay for me to try? As someone with multiple food allergies myself, I get it! Depending on your allergy, I’ll say maybe. Please address this with me before you come to the session. We can likely figure something out. I do not use any tea with any kind of nuts or mushrooms, however I do use teas with chocolate/cacao, citrus, various flowers, mango, peach, different berries, apples, and many spices.
Do you do private parties? At this time, due to Coronavirus, I am not doing parties. If you want to have a small party for those in your household while you shelter-in-place, get inspired on my Pinterest page and send me your cups to read remotely!
Will you come to my business and offer tasseography for my clients? Currently, there are no in-person tasseography sessions offered. If you are in the mid-Atlantic area and located in a town where I am not currently in residency, I am happy to discuss setting up a session for your clients after the COVID-19 threat passes. Currently, I hold residencies at The Dark Parlour in York, Pa, Willow + Oak Wellness in Old Ellicott City, and Alma Antiques and Oddities in Frederick. Please contact me for details.
Can I hire you for a private reading? Yes, remote readings are available at this time and are entirely one-on-one.
Is there an age requirement? No, I’ve done readings for seekers as young as ten , but all guests must be willing and able to drink their own cup of hot tea. You can add sugar, but milks and sticky sweeteners like honey or maple syrup change the leaves. For youth seekers, please plan to have a guardian stay nearby during sessions.
Can you read coffee/cacao/wine sediment? As a regular offering at all my sessions, I have cacao grounds. I’ve done coffee tasseographs, but never wine. Honestly, unfiltered wine isn’t super common and I haven’t sought it out. Tea is my favorite, that’s why at any session, I will have a collection of about 6 to 8 tea options for seekers to choose from.
Do you use local/organic tea? Considering there are only three operational tea farms in the United States, I can’t say I use locally grown tea. However I do try to support local tisane (herbal teas) makers, and small independent shops that create their own blends of tea, fruit, spices, and herbs. As often as possible, I choose tea with organic ingredients -- it’s always noted on my menu.
Can I keep my cup? I’m pretty attached to my tea cups, but if you let me know in advance you want to keep your cup, or that you want to use them as party favors, I will provide the correct kind of vintage tea cup for readings - and you/your guests can keep them. But we definitely need to talk in advance about that and there will be an extra fee! My regular reading cups are not for sale!
Do you sell cups for remote readings? I have a few extra cups and can ship you one. Contact me for details.
Do you also do tarot/oracle cards? Not as a service for seekers. Yes, I do have tarot and oracle decks and know their meanings. However, tasseography is the only divination service I offer; it resonates with me on a deep level. I know several fantastic intuitive tarot/oracle readers and if you want a reference, I am glad to assist.