Reading Tea Leaves: Symbols and Meanings

Updated on March 14, 2018
kittythedreamer profile image

Kitty has been following an alternative spiritual path for seventeen years. She encourages others to follow their souls' calling.

Reading tea leaves is not as difficult as you might imagine...
Reading tea leaves is not as difficult as you might imagine... | Source

Reading Tea Leaves

Tea leaf reading is a technique of divination that dates back centuries in Europe, probably to the early seventeenth century. Tea leaf readings are also known as tasseography and are thought to stem from readings of splattered wax or lead, a divination used during Medieval times. It is a form of divination very similar to mirror scrying, augury, cloud scrying, and casting runes, and yet it is completely unique. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of psychics who perform tea leaf readings every day, divining their hopeful client's future events, solutions to current problems, and even looking into their past lives to find deep-seated aspects of themselves.

But reading tea leaves doesn't have to be a difficult divination technique left only to the professionals. Tea leaf readings are literally available for anyone with a cup, tea leaves, water, an open-mind and a ready heart.


The Simplicity

The only things you'll need in order to do a tea leaf reading is a teacup, hot water, and loose tea leaves of your choice. After making your tea and drinking the tea, the point is to let the loose tea leaves fall into a pattern or picture at the bottom of your teacup. Some people will say to swirl the cup around to make a pattern on the bottom (I've never found this to be necessary), and traditionally you should read the tea leaves from the outermost edges going in a circular motion towards the middle of the bottom.

Reading tea leaves symbols in a teacup is as easy as letting the clouds form shapes right in front of your eyes. There is no right way of reading tea leaves symbols, as symbols and shapes take on different forms to different eyes. For instance - in the teacup to the right, the photographer posted that she sees a dog and a bird flying above the dog. But when I read the tea leaves here, I see a cloud and a lady in a beautiful, long gown looking up at it.

Each tea leaf symbol you see in your cup could have many various meanings, but the point is to interpret it as the images come to your mind. Don't force the interpretation, whatever pops into your mind first with the tea leaves is what message you should take away from it. This technique of reading tea leaves symbols is on the same level as almost any other type of scrying divination - let the message come to you in one steady flow of information. After drinking a cup of hot tea, your body and mind should be relaxed enough to read the tea leaves with ease.

Believe it or not, coffee grounds are even used by some in tasseography. I am not a fan of loose coffee grounds in my coffee cup, but some find this method just as effective and sometimes it even becomes a tea leaf reader's favorite form of divination.

Play around with the types of tea leaves that you use, and practice your tea leaf readings whenever you drink a cup of hot tea. The more you practice, the more you will get used to interpreting the images and applying them to your life or others' lives.

Watch the tea leaves steep and focus on your intentions...
Watch the tea leaves steep and focus on your intentions... | Source

Meanings of Symbols

Everyone who looks at tea leaves might see something completely different from what you see. That doesn't make any one person right or wrong. What you read in the tea leaves is right for you or for the person you are reading at that time. Tea leaves symbols and meanings could also have various meanings for different readers, depending on the reader's experience with the symbols and things they see in the tea leaves.

Here are some tea leaves symbols and meanings to get your mind working:

Butterfly - transformation
Bird - freedom
Circle - change, evolution
Cloud - movement, emotion
Dog - loyalty
Fish - wisdom
Flower - new life, growth
Frog - fertility, spirituality
Heart - love, betrayal, family relationships
House - success, stability
Money - new job, promotion, new opportunity
Mountain - obstacle, opportunity
Ocean - love and intuition, psychic development
Snake - healing, deep spiritual growth, transitioning
Turtle - perseverance

In addition to scenes in nature that you might see during your reading tea leaves session, you could possibly also see letters, numbers, and faces.


Types of Tea Leaves to Use in Readings

In my personal opinion and experience, almost any type of tea leaves can be used in reading tea leaves symbols. Sometimes the smaller the better, especially if you're a beginner. I have used everything from lavender tea to pau d' arco bark in my readings. Uva Ursi is also another herb that is perfect for reading tea leaves. Of course you have to let these tea leaves float loosely in your tea, not from within a tea ball or bag.

Some other tea leaves you can use in reading tea leaves symbols and meanings include: chamomile, spring puochong, anise, peppermint, and the list could go on and on. Even larger fresh tea leaves can be used, they are just a little more difficult to interpret if you are a beginner. However, if you've been practicing reading tea leaves for quite some time, large tea leaves can add a new system of mystery and challenge. Oolong tea can be used in this way.

Pot of loose leaf oolong tea
Pot of loose leaf oolong tea | Source

Please participate in a poll:

Have you ever tried to read tea leaves or had a tea leaf reading done?

See results

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

    © 2012 Kitty Fields


    Submit a Comment
    • Fayleen profile image


      11 months ago

      Yes I will give it a try. In the picture in the article I seen a map and then a frog at the rim of the teacup. : )

    • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

      Kitty Fields 

      11 months ago from Summerland

      Fayleen - There are people who read coffee grounds, too!

    • Fayleen profile image


      11 months ago

      I could really do with some tea now but I've only got coffee in the house. It will just need to be coffee. Another fab article : )

    • Katiewitch profile image


      12 months ago

      Awesome I will go and try it now

    • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

      Kitty Fields 

      5 years ago from Summerland

      Thank you to whalefeather2 and moneyfairy!

    • moneyfairy profile image

      Money Fairy 

      6 years ago from New Woodstock

      Very interesting hub! look forward to trying it. Years ago I had a coffee grounds reading but it pretty much just told me what ws going on right that moment not any future happenings so I'll try to see if the tea leaves can give anymore info. Thanks!! Great!!

    • whalefeather2 profile image


      6 years ago

      My great grandmother was supposed to be able to read tea leaves..I have always wonder but this is the first information I have seen on it. :-) I plan on looking into it more. Thanks.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      It is pretty amazing to determin the future by tea leaves. It is certainly food for thought. I used to be an Astrologer and feel there are many ways of determining our lives that fall out of the main box. Great hub.

    • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

      Kitty Fields 

      6 years ago from Summerland

      Nell - Awesome. I've always only done it for myself and on my own. Thank you!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      6 years ago from England

      Hi fascinating stuff, I remember having my tea leaves read years ago, for the life of me I can't remember what they said, but I do remember wondering how they interpreted it, great hub as always, nell

    • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

      Kitty Fields 

      6 years ago from Summerland

      dagny - You're absolutely right! I wrote this hub with the intent of giving the information to those who already use other forms of divination...but I probably should have thought to mention this for beginners who don't use divination at all. Thanks!

    • dagny roth profile image

      dagny roth 

      6 years ago from Neverland

      Cool hub Kitty! It may be helpful for those who commented on interpretation to note that with any divination it is (in my opinion) less about predicting and more about answers which are already available within the subconscious mind. Since we are all connected this information is shared and most of us already know the answers we seek deep down. The readings simply help us manifest our own personal messages. At least that is how I view it!

    • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

      Kitty Fields 

      6 years ago from Summerland

      Silver Fish - Thanks! I would love to visit Scotland one day. :)

    • Silver Fish profile image

      Silver Fish 

      6 years ago from Edinburgh Scotland

      Love this hub.

      Many women would read tea leaves as a matter of course when I was growing up in Scotland, it was part of everyday life. Lovely to be reminded of this age old craft. Up and shared.

    • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

      Kitty Fields 

      6 years ago from Summerland

      TToombs08 - You're too sweet, thanks!

    • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

      Kitty Fields 

      6 years ago from Summerland

      rcrumple - Of course the interpretation vary depending on the type of person reading it. But the interpretation with ANY type of divination will vary from person to person. The same goes with messages pulled from crystal balls, scrying mirrors, cloud scrying, tarot cards, casting runes, etc. It doesn't matter, the point is to interpret what you see for yourself or for another in your presence. Thanks!

    • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

      Kitty Fields 

      6 years ago from Summerland

      Lady Summerset - Obviously if I was actually there reading the tea leaves it might be different, but I was just giving an example as to how the interpreter's view of the symbols and meanings can differ from person to person. Thanks!

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 

      6 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      This would be fun for dinner parties or afternoon tea. Great job, kitty! :)

    • rcrumple profile image


      6 years ago from Kentucky

      Kitty -

      This is one hub that I didn't think would hold my attention. Okay, so I was wrong! I should've know better with you writing it!

      Like always, I've got a question for you. Wouldn't the interpretation depend on the type of person reading it? For example, a highly creative person could see something in direct contrast to what a highly technical person would view. Wouldn't this vary the interpretation? And, if it doesn't matter (as the example you gave between yours and the photographer) then when is one to know what is applicable, or even accurate? Just a question from a feeble brain. lol Great Hub as always!

    • Lady Summerset profile image

      Lady Summerset 

      6 years ago from Willingboro, New Jersey

      Oh, I thought the leave reading was for the "actual" person who dranked the tea. Thanks for clearing that up.

    • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

      Kitty Fields 

      6 years ago from Summerland

      Lady Summerset - For me, the lady in the dress is me...staring at the clouds and feeling a connection to the divine. :) But like I said, the interpretation, symbols, etc. might be different for every person as we are all individuals and relate to symbols differently. Thanks!

    • Lady Summerset profile image

      Lady Summerset 

      6 years ago from Willingboro, New Jersey

      Greetings Kitty,

      Interesting Hub. So, what was the meaning of the woman, with the long dress and cloud (I do see a bird)?


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