How To Read Tea Leaves For Complete Beginners

Reading tea leaves is a form of divination used by witches and non-witches alike. Tea leaf reading involves looking at the placement and the formations of the tea leaves remaining in your teacup to get information about the past, present, and future of your life. It doesn’t require much equipment. A teacup, a saucer, hot water, and a teaspoon of loose leaf tea is all you need to get started.

Even if you’ve never used tea leaf reading for divination, you can still explore this ancient art and get great results. Interpreting the meaning of your tea leaves is a bit like throwing bones or scrying, it’s intuition-based and there are very few hard-and-fast rules. Over time, you’ll start to recognize the symbols and what they mean, and your readings will improve in accuracy. There are just a few basics you need to know to get started, and the rest is up to you! If you’re looking for a way to honor your psychic abilities strengthen your connection to your intuition, give tea leaf reading a try.

What Do You Need?

The Teacup

Most resources say you should use a teacup rather than a mug to do a tea leaf reading. The sides of a mug are long and almost vertical, and that shape makes it harder to get an accurate reading. Teacups are shorter, narrow at the bottom and have wider rims with a gentle slant between the base and the rim. The shape of a teacup makes it easier to get a wide variety of lines and formations from the leaves when the teacup is flipped over.

The Tea Leaves

Coarse dried loose leaf tea is ideal for tea leaf reading. Tea from a tea bag is too fine to use and it won’t stick to the sides of the cup as well when the cup is overturned. Looseleaf tea is traditional and there are many kinds of tea herbs you can choose from. Experiment with different herbs and blends to see which ones you prefer to work with during a tea leaf reading. You may find that some herbs give you more accurate results. You don’t need a lot of tea leaves to do a tea leaf reading. I recommend one teaspoon per teacup.

Setting An Intention With Witchcraft

Light incense, play music, diffuse essential oil, cleanse the room, or anything else that makes your space feel more sacred and gets you in the mindset for magic. If you have certain magical tools to aid divination, use those here.

You may also want to think about what kind of guidance you’re seeking to access this particular tea leaf reading. What is your intention?

Consider prepping the space depending on your inquiry. For example, if you wish to get insight into your love life, you could burn rose petal incense and hold a rose quartz stone.

Charging Your Tools

Because you’re a witch, you can add even more magic and power to your tea leaf reading by charging your tools.

Ideas for Charging Your Tea Cup

  • Light incense and allow the teacup to pass through the smoke.
  • Bury your teacup in the ground for one lunar cycle to cleanse it of all unwanted energy.

Ideas for Charging Your Water

  • Place a clean, polished amethyst crystal in room temperature water to strengthen your psychic abilities. Remove the crystal before heating the water for tea.
  • Leave water in a purple-tinted jar to infuse it with the intuitive energy associated with the color purple according to traditional color magic.

Ideas for Charging Your Tea Leaves

  • Charge your tea leaves in the light of the full moon to increase the accuracy of your reading.
  • Hold the tea leaves in your hands as you perform a white light meditation to cleanse your leaves of any unwanted energy they picked up while being packaged or shipped.

Calling In The Quarters With Tea

Even without reading tea leaves, making and drinking tea is a ritual on its own because it involves all four elements. Add power to your tea leaf reading ceremony by calling in the elements one at a time at the beginning of your ceremony and thank them when you end your ceremony.

Earth – tea leaves

Water – water that is poured over the leaves

Fire – heat from the water

Air – steam from the hot water  

How To Begin Your Reading

To make your tea, drop a teaspoon of tea leaves into your teacup and pour hot water over the leaves, filling the cup. If you’re using a teapot, use one teaspoon per teacup and don’t strain the tea leaves out. Just add the spoonfuls of tea leaves into the pot, let it steep, and then divide the tea among the teacups.

Sip the tea as you meditate on your intention or inquiry. When there’s just a sip or two of liquid left in the cup, hold the handle in your left hand and swirl the liquid around clockwise in the cup three times.

Next, place a napkin on the saucer and flip the cup over to allow the excess liquid and tea leaves drain onto the napkin.

Turn the teacup right side up and position the teacup so the handle is pointing towards the querent, whether it’s you or someone else.

Interpreting The Tea Leaves

Here’s where it gets interesting because there really are no right or wrong answers. You will have to lean into your intuition to get any sort of reading at all.

Above all, trust your intuition when you’re first examining the formations of your tea leaves. Then, if you need some guidelines, you can refer to this list.

General Guidelines:

Position of the Leaves in the Cup:

Notice where the formations of the leaves are in the cup. The position of the leaves is one of the most important aspects of a reading.

  • Leaves to the left of the handle may refer to the information in the querent’s past.
  • Leaves to the right of the handle may refer to things happening in the querent’s future.
  • Leaves on the bottom of the cup are usually read as events that will take place in the far away future.
  • Leaves near the rim of the cup are usually read as events that will take place in the querent’s near future or present.

Lines and Dots:

Look for any lines, dots, circles, or dashes. Sometimes the fine bits of tea in a tea leaf reading will form small lines that aren’t quite symbols. These may be significant to a reading and are worth noting.

  • Dots can indicate money or abundance of any kind.
  • Circles can indicate the end of a cycle, a completion of some sort.
  • Dashes can represent opportunities of any kind, professional or personal.

Pay attention to where these lines or dots are on the cup and what other symbols are around them.

For example, if you see a couple of dots near a heart-shaped cluster of leaves near the rim of your cup, that could be a sign that a new romance is about to enter your life.

Tea Leaf Reading Symbols

Looking for and interpreting symbols is the last part of a tea leaf reading. This concept is very similar to scrying, reading tarot cards by intuition or looking for shapes in the clouds. You probably aren’t going to see extremely detailed images in your tea leaves, but your mind will make some connections when you look into your cup. Shapes will appear, and they’ll remind you of different things. Maybe a long horizontal triangle makes you think of the jaws of an alligator. You might associate an alligator with danger. Another reader might look at that horizontal triangle and see a spilled ice cream cone, which that reader then associates with loss or some kind of mistake.

You’re going to have to trust the first thoughts, feelings, and images that come to you when you’re doing a reading. It might be helpful to jot down your first impressions and journal about your natural associations with the different symbols.

Over time, you can look back over your different readings, and see which ones came to pass and which ones were referring to something other than what you originally thought. That’s the joy of tea leaf reading. It’s an art form, and like all great art, the interpretation is highly personal.

Don’t let this open-ended form of divination intimidate you, rather, let it give you even more freedom to make all kinds of abstract, intuition-based connections. When you’re first learning, only time will tell how accurate you are.

A Note On Fortune Telling

Also remember that many witches, including myself, believe the future is fluid. If you see something in your future that you’d rather not experience, make some changes. You have the power to steer the ship of your life. The choices you make in the present can change everything.

There are many books and websites that will tell you what different symbols mean, but you are certainly welcome to add your own meaning to each symbol based on your own personal experiences. You can also look up the meaning of symbols in books that analyze a person’s dreams.

Wherever you feel called to seek guidance, consult those sources, but again, above all, trust yourself. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing a tea leaf reading that doesn’t end up coming to pass. A divination reading is a snapshot of your current future, and things are always changing, just as you are always changing.

When you’re all done with your tea leaf reading, you can thank and dismiss the elements. Then discard the leaves, wash your teacup, and let it dry in the sun.

Perform this form of divination whenever you feel called. It’s also an excellent practice to do with other witchy friends when you’re celebrating a full moon or sabbat.


Your Fortune in a Cup By Tim Forst

Tea Leaf Reading: A Practical Manual By Kady Harmony

Moon Magic By Diane Ahlquist

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How To Read Tea Leaves For Complete Beginners by The Traveling Witch

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