It’s not the traditionalist’s cup of tea, but tasseography, tasseomancy or tassology, which is the art of reading tea leaves. It is believed to have originated in China in 2737 BC when Buddhist monks started interpreting the patterns formed inside teacups.
Shape is important in tassomancy: both of the cup and the dregs. The best cup is one with a wide mouth and a proportionate base. Avoid tall cups and small ones. A plain white teacup is perhaps the best because patterns confuse the clarity of designs presented by the tea leaves.
The tea should be made with cut or folded leaves along with tea grains and a little tea dust to get enough residues. The tea should be poured into the teacup without using a strainer. Before sipping the tea, the reader and the client both meditate for a while concentrating upon the question to be answered. The tea-drinker should drink the contents of the cup so that not more than half a teaspoonful of tea is left. He should then take the cup by the handle in his left hand, rim upwards, and turn it three times from left to right in a rapid swinging movement. Then, very slowly and carefully, it is to be inverted over the saucer and left for a minute, so that all the moisture can drain away leaving the dregs behind.
The patterns, shapes, symbols, letters and numbers formed nearest the handle or the lip area represent what is going to happen in the very near future or is happening currently. Shapes closer to the bottom represent the future. Some tasseographers read the spaces between the patterns. At times, it appears as if an image is marked or outlined with tiny black outlines made up of tea leaves.
The tasseomancer should keep a calm, open mind, and read in an unhurried fashion to achieve a clear reading of the leaves. The shapes and figures should be viewed front different positions. It is not easy at first to see what the shapes really are, but after gazing at them carefully, the shapes become plain to the eye. It is always a good idea to keep a rough drawing book with pictures of the patterns formed by the tea leaves and make notes of the various meanings. The shapes and figures in the cup must be taken together in a general reading. Bad indications will be balanced by good ones; some good ones will be strengthened by others, and so on and so forth.
The reading becomes effective only when the reader is able to apply close resemblances between the patterns formed and various natural or artificial objects. This expertise can be achieved only after some serious practice. Whether the shapes of trees, animals, birds, anchors, crowns, coffins, flowers as well as squares, triangles, and crosses is discerned through the powers of observation or simply are figments of the imagination will take time to discover. It is important to note that imagination should not be replaced by invention.
Each are omens, good or bad. These may be large or small, and their relative importance must be judged according to their size. Larger symbols are considered to be more significant. Any experienced tassologist would consider the symbols in their totality: all shapes, letters, numbers and patterns in conjunction with other signs.
Certain figures and symbols occur so frequently that any tea reader can easily divine what they mean. Some indicate misfortune or sorrow: the cross, snake, sword, knife, spade, pistol, gun, frog or cat. On the other hand, the crescent moon, clover leaves, flowers, trees, anchors, fruit and circles indicate joy and success. The rule of thumb: whatever doesn’t look good is bad. But remember, intuition is necessary to be an expert tasseomancer. May the cup brimmeth over.
Article Published in Indian Express.