The ancient practice of divination has always accompanied tea drinking and meditation in both China and Japan. The tea ceremony is an act of meditation, and the analysis of the left over tea leaves reflects the state of things at that precise instant.
The interpretation of the different patterns and symbols that the tea leaf remnants leave in the bottom of the cup is called tasseography. It is often associated with gypsy fortunetellers, Tarot cards, palm reading and numerology. Man’s thirst to know the future is as old as time itself and every culture in the history of civilization has had its witches and their methods of divining the future. However, divining the future does not mean predicting events that will definitely occur; there are too many variables that affect the path of future events, most notably free will and human choice.
Some of the more common symbols found in tea reading denote happiness or sadness either in the past, present or future. For example, the acorn and the elephant denote good health, and the elephant also denotes good luck and happiness. Birds indicate a journey, and an anchor denotes success in business or love. Of course the heart points to love and heavenly bodies like the sun, moon or stars are also harbingers of luck, happiness and success. Palm trees and triangles also bring good fortune, while the owl brings the dark cloud of sickness or poverty.
Symbols in tealeaves require subtleties in their interpretations as they relate to each other and their position in the teacup itself. The symbols can play off of each other offering a broader declaration for the future. Contradicting images may indicate indecision in a person’s mind. Larger images are deemed more important than smaller images, and one side of the teacup represents the past while the other side represents the future.
Whatever the prediction, reading tealeaves has been popular in Western civilization since the beginning of the twentieth century.