Tasseography: How to Read the Tea Leaves

Tea Leaf ReadingArticle by Craig Hamilton-Parker. The old gypsy art of tea leaf reading (Tasseography) uses the art of reading random shapes to divine the future. Here I explain how to read the tea leaves and the tea leaf readings meanings for the shapes you will see. Just as you can see shapes in the ink blots or clouds so too tea leaves will form into pictures that can be interpreted as omens of the future. You’ll need to use a loose tea and no strainer. The vertical position in the cup is taken as an indication of time. Images that cling towards the rim of the cup are in the present, with those in the future towards the bottom.


Tea leaf Oracles

There are an enormous variety of oracles that use random patterns and shapes to tell the future. For example, a popular love oracle involved interpreting the shapes made when egg white is dropped into a glass of water. Oenomancy predicted from the patterns made by wine poured out as an offering to the gods, Scapulomancy predicted from the patterns of cracks and fissures on the burned shoulder blade of an animal and Tephromancy predicted from the ashes of burnt offerings. Even the famous Chinese oracle called the I Ching originates from the ancient tortoise shell oracle that predicted from the cracks in heated tortoise shells.


Tasseography- tea leaf reading to you and me- is a popular technique used to access the intuition using random patterns. Again, it is the pictures created by the shapes of the leaves that are interpreted as oracles for the future. This method of divination is thought to have come from ancient China although the Romans used a similar technique to read the lees of their wine.

In fact, the pattern made by the sediment left in the bottom of any drinking cup has always been interpreted of great importance in predicting the drinker’s future. I know a fortune-teller who predicts the future by reading dirty plates! Again, the method is the same as for the traditional methods- he looks for pictures and interprets these as symbols for the future.

Tea Leaf Readings Meanings to see the future

Tea Leaf Reading Meanings

Angel: This could represent your desire to become more spiritual or to rise above the commonplace. As an omen for the future it augers well and peace may come to you. The angel of death may be a premonition of someone dying or an indication that your attitudes must go through a death and rebirth.

Birds: Birds are a symbol of transcendence. Consider the type of bird that you see. A dove may symbolise peace to come, a raven deceit, and a peacock warns you to beware of pride. Butterflies may symbolise the spiritual transformation of the soul.

Bridge: A transition to new things. What do you see lying beyond? Is it a happy landscape or a foreboding one? You may have some good times or difficult decisions ahead.

Cat: Normally associated with female qualities, the cat may symbolise the female part of yourself- your intuition maybe or your psychic self. Associated with good fortune, it could also indicate a good period ahead.

Church: The sacred side of you will be of importance.

Door: The opening to a new area of your life. An opportunity ahead.

Faces: The image is likely to appear distorted but consider the expression. Does it say something about your state of mind or remind you of someone you know? The person portrayed may have a role in your future plans.

Fish: Fish are a universal symbol of fertility with the promise of personal inner growth. Superstitions say that to dream of catching a fish means that good fortune will come your way.

Hat: Symbolises your role in life. Perhaps a change of job or role is indicated.

Horse: A horse can represent untamed emotions or even sexual ecstasy. Horseshoes, of course, are a well-known symbol of luck to come.

Judge: This could represent your conscience or is a prophesy about a conflict with authority ahead.

Keys: A problem will be solved and you will be opening the door to opportunity.

Knife: Someone may mean you harm or you could have a self destructive tendency.

Ladder: Progress in spiritual or worldly status.

Moon: The moon has always been linked with fertility and may show personal growth. As it is associated with water, the inner growth may be emotional. There could be travel overseas predicted.

Mountains: A quest and obstacles to be overcome.

Owl: You will gain greater wisdom.

Path: The direction you are taking in life. Note any other symbols you may see near this image.

Pig: Are you being stubborn and “Pig Headed”? It is also a symbol of selfishness and a brutish nature.

Policeman: Are you feeling guilty about something?

Queen: Shows the motherly side of your nature or the guiding intuitive self. Your intuition will guide your future.

Revolver: Do you feel angry about something. Or perhaps you will get ‘another shot’ at an opportunity.

Rats: Aspects of yourself or others that probably frighten or disgust you. There could be problems ahead.

Rose: A symbol of love and a mystical symbol for enlightenment. You may see other flowers in the ink blot. Ask yourself what associations they have for you.

Storm: An inner conflict may be overwhelming you or there may be trouble ahead.

Spider: You may distrust others. Be careful about entering formal agreements- you may get trapped.

Train: The direction of your life at the moment. Be careful that you don’t miss an opportunity.

Tree: Does the tree bear fruit? Is it strong like the oak or rotten, withered and battered. Trees are strong yet they can bend with the wind- perhaps you should do the same when faced with adversity.

Violence: If the images you see are of a violent theme then there may be a need for you to express your emotions in a natural, gentle way.

Yourself: If you see a face that reminds you of yourself you have probably able to understand yourself from another’s point of view.

Zoo Animals: You may feel that your life is hemmed in. You feel caged.

This is an extract from my new book
Book: Intuitive Knowledge

8 comments… add one
  • maurice smook Oct 25, 2017, 10:14 pm

    This is the first. I have a map of Australia in my cup. I do not have any friends or any acquaintances in Australia. I checked the web sites for the meanings but to no avail. It would be appreciated if someone cant interpret this.

  • M Jun 13, 2017, 2:11 am

    I saw a bat hanging but then it changed to a set of female breasts with nipples showing. Very strange. Meaning?

  • Julie parkinson Mar 13, 2016, 1:17 pm

    In my tea leaf cup, the tea leaves showed a horse grazing you saw the ear face legs it took whole of cup facing the handle.

    • Craig Hamilton-Parker Mar 22, 2016, 1:08 pm

      You need to ask yourself what the symbol of a horse means to you. Strength maybe, a swift journey? The meaning shown by the tea-leaves may be personal.

  • mirlinda Apr 26, 2014, 5:04 pm

    I saw the letter L in my tea cup

  • steve lucas Sep 7, 2013, 12:36 pm

    Saw a monkey in the bottom of my coffee cup?

  • Jiri Oct 21, 2012, 11:57 pm

    I operate with somewhat different group of symbols and meanings for tealeaf or coffee grounds reading. Anyway, the truth has many shapes and there is always something to learn. Thanks for your article!

  • Robert Park Aug 3, 2012, 12:44 am

    Tea cup reading has been a pass time of mine for a number of years but regrettably today’s tea bags have almost destroyed the interest. I only practise the art whenever there is a family gathering which is less often lately.

    Interestingly, a late aunt of mine was good at tea cup reading and it seems with her demise that I inherited the interest.

    I can usually make between 5 to 7 predictions with each cup. Sometimes I would get feedback but usually on one point only so I decided to take note of the predictions I made with my first wife. After three readings there were 22 events. During the course of the next six months all but one transpired. The one that did not transpire was an event when I became concerned that my wife may be sexually assaulted but this did not happen, however, she had gone to Australia for 4 weeks and when in Adelaide she was followed on returning alone to her hotel one evening. She was scared but nothing happened (so she said). I gave myself half-a-point for this one.

    I do not use nor ever had a dictionary on any psychic matters as they can be misleading. I am not aware of having communication from any spiritual source yet whenever I see a shape immediately I get an impression and it is those impressions that transpire to be predictive.

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