Bottoms up! The tea-cup tells all (or not)…


Verandah Magazine’s resident psychic, Liz Winter, practises the ancient art of tasseography or tasseomancy, and finds the tea-leaves enticingly mysterious.

Sitting in an open air cafe in Byron Bay recently, I admired the ocean views and thought I saw a dolphin jump out the turquoise water before me.  At that moment the waitress arrived with my cappuccino and unmistakeably the pattern at the top of the coffee looked just like a dolphin.

I wondered if the universe was giving me some sort of personal message or if in fact I was imagining the whole thing.  As I sipped my coffee, wishing that I didn’t have to upset the dolphin image, I began to recall a tea leaf reading I had many years ago. It was on a cool winter day at a Melbourne market and all I could recall was an elderly woman gazing into my almost empty tea cup and remarking that I would live in a sub tropical climate and have two sons – and quite right she was.

Feeling inspired, I began to google tea leaf reading and found that it originated in China, spread to India where the Romney gypsies learned the art and it travelled from there. The term for tea leaf reading is actually called ‘Tasseography’  I found some basic directions how to perform a tea leaf reading and decided to give it a go.  ( seemed a good place to start. A friend also loaned me an ancient tea leaf reading book.


It seems you can read your own tea leaves or for someone else.
Here are some basic directions (although once you start researching, there are many different ideas):
Once you have made a pot of tea and drunk the cup almost to the bottom, the enquirer swishes it around three times with their left hand in an anti-clockwise motion, asking a specific question if desired. Otherwise just swish, allowing the tea leaves to move around the cup.
Next, turn the cup upside down and turn it three times in an anti-clockwise direction.
Turn the cup upright and see what symbols you can see – the first symbol you see is apparently the most significant. The handle of the cup represents the enquirer, so the tea leaves near the handle pertain to the enquirer and the tea leaves opposite pertain to people in the inquirer’s life. The leaves closer to the rim of the cup represent the present or near future, whereas the leaves down the bottom are further in the future.
A symbol chart for tea leaves can be found at
Inspired by all this knowledge, I went out and bought a packet of tea leaves, I found them on the bottom shelf at the local supermarket – I guess we live in a tea bag world these days!


I hurried home and made a pot of tea. I followed all the instructions but when it came to the moment of reading my cup…all I could see was tea leaves! However, I didn’t let that dampen my spirits, and at the next psychic development class I taught, I made it the topic of the day. We all read each other’s tea cups and had lots of fun.  And I have to say I got a much better reading from my students than I could have given myself.

If tea is not your thing, next time you are having a cappuccino with a friend, swap cups at the end and see what you can see, the patterns the froth leaves in your coffee cup are full of stories.

Bottoms Up!

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