It begins with land and memory. Every herb harvested for tea or bean gathered for coffee comes from somewhere. Some are chosen with care and others in collected in mass. While you can do tasseography with any tea, I like to work with Madame Zuzus teas as they are high quality, personally chosen and harvested with care. For coffee I prefer Armenian, Greek, or Turkish coffees. You can work with anything you choose. It will not effect the reading.
The most important part of tasseography is creating a relationship with the tea or coffee itself. Every morning I get up and make myself coffee. I then slide back into bed and make "to do" lists or check email. I take this time to fully wake myself up and prepare for the day ahead. In the afternoon and evening I like to brew tea. Sometimes I brew regular tea and sometimes Romani tea. This is my daily ritual and makes me feel grounded despite the piles of work I may have to do. Think about your personal relationship to beverages. How do they make you feel? Do you have your own personal ritual with these beverages? Does tasting a certain tea or coffee bring back memories? For instance Cafe Bustelo reminds me of my days in Bedstuy listening to NPR and jazz as I finished my projects for college and tried my hand at black and white photography. Armenian coffee takes me back to Astoria and mornings with with Armenian neighbor Kristen, who brewed up the best tasting cup as we talked of faraway lands. The taste of chicory coffee is distinctly New Orleans and walking through the French Quarter to Cafe du Monde. Think about the history of the land you are getting you tea or coffee from. History reminds us that chicory and coffee have somewhat of a mysterious beginning. Some say it began when Napoleon initiated the 'Continental Blockade' in 1808 and divested France of its coffee. Once the block was lifted the French believing in it's health benefits continued to use it. Although it was here in the US due to French influence, it was considered an additive until the Civil War where coffee deliveries were often blocked. It became a substitute or mixed to keep rations from dwindling. When the war ended so did the need for chicory, except in New Orleans. It became a staple, and undeniable taste that makes it unique to the Crescent City.
Crema Earl Grey takes me back to painting divination tables and creating prosperity spells at my former home in Queens. It also makes me think of land and how recipes are formed from the land itself. The history of Earl grey goes back to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1830 to 1834. In the early 1800’s he was given a sample of tea by a Chinese diplomat. It was a blend of tea from China flavoured with rind of bergamot The water at Howick had a high lime content and the tea masked the taste of the water. Grey served it to friends that visited and eventually gave the recipe to George Charlton in 1830. That recipe has been used ever since.
Think about these things as you brew and hold the cup in your hands. When you take the first sip savor it. Notice the flavors in the tea. There is a romance in tea and coffee. It's something that over time we have created relationships with and to think that there are messages hidden at the bottom of the cup is quite a magical experience within itself.
Before we go further lets go into the history of tasseography itself. The root of the word is derived from the French tasse and Arabic tassa , meaning cup and the Greek suffix graph and mancy meaning writing and knowledge. Tasseography was thought to have been brought over from China when Europeans were introduced to tea in the 17th century and it's origins have been credited to Asia, Greece, and the Middle East. It became popular in the Victorian era. Interest in the occult was becoming widely popular as was self analysis brought on by the work of Sigmund Freud and Josef Breuer. This interest brought on an "acceptance" of certain cultural practices that were normally shunned. The Roma who were often banished from towns and cities were now part of the social circle making house calls for divination for a fee. Many immigrants found work in fortune telling as they were not allowed to work regular jobs. For the Roma, it was hard no matter where they went. The church attacked fortune tellers and tried to force deportations. Often the Roma were sold as slaves or faced racism and persecution in Western Europe. An example of this was Napoleon transporting hundreds of Roma men to Louisiana right before he sold the territory to the US. By the end of the 19th century many were immigrating to the US as they felt their lives would be better there. During the 1920s tea rooms were formed and allowed for immigrants to make a living telling fortunes, this however made some people angry and laws were introduced to ban payments for fortune telling services. "Gypsy Tea Rooms" were created to find loopholes around the laws. Often the fortune tellers would not charge for the reading but one would come free with a tweet-five cent tea purchase. It has been noted that Chicago’s Gypsy Tea Room on 22 West Monroe where the Majestic Theater is may have been the city’s first tea room. The Persian Tea Room on 16 West Jackson, and the Garden of Zanzibar Tea Room on 54 West Randolph Street created a little while later also did quite well. The Queen of Heart Tea Room on N Dearborn offered palmistry, tasseography, cartomancy and numerology as well as a selection of teas to choose from. During this time pottery used for divination was formed. Teacups with symbols painted into them helped aid in the fortune telling. Bottom of the Cup 327 Chartres St. in the French Quarter, New Orleans was established in 1929 and still stands to this day being one of America's oldest tea rooms still in business.
Tasseography takes a different kind of concentration. While the symbols you see are important, it's also important to take notes of what you're being told. This will often come in as a thought bubble or something that pops into your head. These are often the most important messages.
How to Read the Leaves
*Something to keep in mind: When drinking the tea try to focus on something specific you'd like the answer to. If you have no questions just think about your life in general.
There are a few ways to make the tea. One is to put a pinch of the leaves into the cup, add hot water and drink the tea with the loose leaves. I use a tea strainer and then add a few pinches of the leaves to the cup when there is one sip left. Leave that liquid in the cup and add the leaves. For Armenian coffee, you take a tsp of the coffee and some sugar and add to cold water in the pot. Stir the mixture and set on low to medium heat until the coffee begins to simmer and the foam rises, lower the heat, and let it settle then do this two more times. Pour into a cup.
Once you have finished drinking your beverage take your left hand and swirl the cup counter clockwise three times and put the saucer or a small plate over the cup. Flip the cup over and put it right side up. Look at the way the tea leaves form. At first you may not notice anything but as you look further you will start to see shapes appear. Turn the cup around to see all angles. Squint your eyes if you need to to get a better grasp of images forming.
There seems to be a resurgence in tasseography as a divination art in the past few years. This may be with the rising interest in both the occult and tea in general. Tasseography is the perfect method of gaining insight by sipping (putting your essence into the the process of drinking) thinking about what you'd like to know and then looking at what the cup and you essence (saliva) are telling you. In Romani culture saliva is very sacred. It contains your life force and can be used both to bless and curse.
Starting with the cup handle (current month) and going left to right you can see how each part of the cup represents a month in the future. Now look inside the cup. The bottom of the cup is Current. then it goes up to beginning of month, mid month, and end of month or future.
Crosses: Dramatic changes and choices to make.
Straight or Curved Broken Lines: Projects to be started creativity.
Curved Wavy Lines: Use caution. Need better direction or control.
Separate dots: Money or possessions. The position in the cup indicates amount and time frame. For example in the image there are 5 dots in the 5th month position. This could be an indication that a raise is coming or change of work for the better but also that you will be incorporating more. It could be redoing the home or buying a car etc.
Circles: Energy influencing events, completion of cycles and projects.
Groups: This could be a group of circles, curved lines, symbols etc. Look at the grouping. You will probably have to squint as the lines can be faint.
Cluster: Usually a cluster of the same symbol such as a circle along with another set of symbolism. It represents emotions. Happiness, sadness, anger etc.
Remember: At first it is going to be hard to see the symbols and make the connection to what they are. I remember my first time doing it I felt so overwhelmed and like a failure because I couldn't automatically make the connection. I felt blocked or like I was making it up. The important part is to notice patterns. If you see shapes like stars, hearts , horseshoes, animals etc track down a symbolism dictionary or look online to see the hidden meanings. You can also look at dream dictionaries for symbolism. Often there is a crossover.
Below is a list of teas you can purchase from Madame Zuzus and their magical properties. If you'd like to hear me speak about Tasseography, you can find my interview on "I'm Spiritual Dammit" with Jenniffer Weigel on WGN here.
Recipe for Romani Tea via Jessica Reidy. We differ in our opinions of reading for yourself. I feel it's okay and have done it many times for myself. The main thing is to be detached and don't project your own feelings into the reading.
Forgotten History: Roma Slavery in Romania
The secret history of Earl Grey tea by Legacy.com
ZUZU'S VANILLA ROOIBOS
Rooibos purifies, rejuvenates, and brings magic into ones life, it also brings peace and is wonderful for dream work. Associated with Venus, Vanilla brings about calm peaceful energy with a loving vibration. Use for questions on love, lust, healing, luck, life path, and mental clarity questions.
ZUZU'S 3 ESTATE BLACK TEA
Back tea is the traditional tea for tasseography. This tea gives the strength and agility to push through hard times. If you are looking for clarity or navigation on tough decisions, this is a good choice.
ZUZU'S LITCHI NOIR
Removes negativity and brings in sweetness and happiness. Excellent for connecting with the divine feminine and moon magic. Also good for when you need to speak your mind without being harsh. Good for any magical concerns you may have in your line of questioning.
ZUZU'S BLUE DRAGON OOLONG
The oolong helps in meditation and concentration while the blue pea flower creates a sense of inner and outer beauty, love, loyalty, marital balance, harmony, and peace. It is also excellent for overcoming addictions, obsessive behaviors, and fears.
ZUZU'S ROSE NOIR
Black tea is associated with Mars and male energy while the rose is Venus and provides female energy to balance it out. Together this is the perfect tea for anima/animus questions as well as inquiries on love, romance and partnerships.
88TH NIGHT SINCHA
Harvested on the 88th night of spring this tea brings luck and good fortune to all that taste it.
ZUZU'S TROPICAL SPICED CLEMENTINE
Clementine along with Apple, Rosehip , hibiscus, and 3 types of cinnamon make the perfect combination for self love and healing.
BLACK CANADIAN SMOKED ICE WINE ELIXIR
Black tea is good for prosperity, attracting money, good health, strength, and endurance. Grapes are wonderful for abundance work and ice wine is excellent for relieving the blues and freezing out negativity. Work with this tea for business questions as well as health questions.
EMPEROR'S PRIVATE RESERVE AMBROSIA ORCHID OOLONG
Made from five rare orchid scented oolongs this tea is wonderful for reflection, meditation, inner wisdom, and fantastic for concentration and the mysteries of life. When combined with the rare orchid it attracts romance, love and deep relationships and friendships. For inquiries this would be good for discovering hidden blocks that keep you from your goals.
EMPEROR'S MOONLIGHT LITCHI BLOSSOM
Removes negativity and brings in sweetness and happiness. Excellent for connecting with the divine feminine and moon magic. Also good for when you need to speak your mind without being harsh. (With this tea you would be reading the blossom more so than the leaves.)
PRIVATE RESERVE HAND ROLLED HIMALAYAN PEAK DARJEELING
Promotes spiritual growth, the champagne of teas, it brings luxury to one's life. Go to this if you have questions about how to bring a higher frequency into your life.
WILD BLUEBERRY NOIR
The blueberry provides protection while the black tea gives the strength and agility to push through hard times. Work with this tea in times of uncertainty.
WILD FORAGED STINGING NETTLE LIMON
The Nettle dispels negativity and fear, stops gossip, envy, and jealousy. Excellent in an emergency to help with clarity. Lemon is a natural cleanser used for purification and clearing blockages.
MADAME ZUZU'S ROYAL WHITE MOTHERBUSH DARJEELING (EXCLUSIVE) (OUR MOST PRESTIGIOUS TEA)
The motherbush is the bush that creates all the other bushes, it is the original and one rarely touches this bush. This tea is excellent for working with the energy of the divine mother Goddess. It represents new beginnings, clarity, cleansing, meditation, connection to the earth and history, purification and protection. An excellent tea for working with your ancestral spirits as well.
MADAME ZUZUS TROPICAL FRUIT MEDLEY (EXCLUSIVE)
A gorgeous blend. The honeybush is used for purification and rejuvenation as well as weight loss. Cantaloupe aids with balance and success, honeydew for love, pineapple for hospitality and blessings, Seville orange to regulate the flow of energy, and blood orange for warmth, safety, and protection.
MADAME ZUZU'S FRENCH KISSED MOROCCAN MINT
The Dragonwell green tea brings passion and energy as well as a boost of magic while the biodynamic spearmint brings, healing love and protection. The biodynamic peppermint increases vibrational frequencies while purifying the body and mind. The lavender promotes healing of the mind, sleep, and depression. If you're looking to tap into some Brion Gysin energy Moroccan Mint tea was his favorite.
ZUZU'S OSMANTHUS OOLONG
Brings warmth, compassion, and understanding. Good for questions on healing old rifts or disagreements.
CEREMONIAL YUZU KUKICHA
Promotes transformation. It has been compared to the “Ugly Duckling” fairytale wherein at first glance it looks like, stems, stalks, and twigs but transforms into a golden flavorful potion with a hint of citrus. It is one of the finest teas in Japan. Yuzu pushes out negativity and attracts healing and prosperity.
MADAME ZUZU'S MOCHA CHAI
Brings strength and stability. A great tea to drink if you have just closed a chapter of your life as the black teabrings closure. The cacao improves mental weakness and stimulates happy thoughts. Excellent for releasing the past. The chai allows for new awareness and opening of the heart.
MADAME ZUZU'S STIMULUS (EXCLUSIVE)
Energy, energy and more energy. Oh and some healing too but energy! Rapid growth and big steps in the right direction. Focus!
Healing and progress are the name of the game when you drink this tea.
ZUZU'S LEMON BERRY MERITAGE
The lemon purifies and renews while the currants bring a higher vibrational frequency and passion, hibiscus brings love and warmth, blueberries for protection and feeling safe, raisins for pushing out the old and bringing in the new, and cherry for a bit of sweetness and attraction.
ZUZU'S PASSION FRUIT DREAM GREEN
Love, passion, and sexual energy.
MADAME ZUZU'S 2011 VINTAGE OAK BARREL AGED KEEMUN (EXCLUSIVE)
Energy and luxury. Oak bring vitality and long life as well as inner power, centering the mind and avoiding distractions. It inspires leadership, prosperity, bravery, strength of character and also grounds and balances.
ZUZU'S GEORGIA PEACH NECTAR ROOIBOS
Rooibos purifies, rejuvenates, and brings magic into ones life, it also brings peace and is wonderful for dream work. Peaches are wishing fruits and are thought of to bring wishes into fruition. It is also wonderful for exorcising negative thought patterns and energy, longevity, bringing in loving vibes, and fertility.
ZUZU'S DECAF REGAL ENGLISH BREAKFAST
This tea is wonderful for removing and expelling negative energies around you.
ZUZU'S CHAMOMILE CITRON
Love healing and success are all things chamomile brings in. It also dispels negativity, breaks, blocks, creates peace and harmony within the mind and body. Washing hands in chamomile infusion brings luck in gambling and money attraction. When sipped daily it brings long lasting feelings of pure love. Anhui wild lime promotes calmness, tranquility and helps to strengthen love while purifying the mind of negative thought and actions. Lemon peel removes unwanted negativity and blockages.
ZUZU'S EMPEROR'S GOLDEN HOUIJI GENMAICHA
This tea promotes youthful energy and passion. It is great for educing progress. Rice is used for money, sex, fertility, and protection.
ZUZU'S 2010 VINTAGE SICILIAN BLOOD ORANGE PU-ERH
Luxury, healing, energizing. Promotes clarity of the mind as well. The blood orange helps with divination, luck, money, love, and prosperity.
ZUZU'S MOONLIGHT JASMINE BLOSSOM
Jasmine is wonderful for attracting spiritual love, soul mates and higher vibrations. Drinking Jasmine allows the mind to accept wealth and money without doubt. Helps creativity and new ideas. Excellent for prophetic dreaming. (With this tea you would be reading the blossom more so than the leaves.)
ZUZU'S CREMA EARL GREY (MOST POPULAR CUP OF TEA IN ZUZUS TEASHOP)
Black tea dispels negativity and allows for prosperity to begin while the bergamot is great for prosperity., money workings, removing obstacles and blocks, success, and protection from illness.
ZUZU'S EMPEROR'S MINT MERITAGE
Biodynamic spearmint is for wishing magic, health, healing, love, and to dispel bad dreams while biodynamic peppermint increases higher vibrational frequencies, aids in changing ones life for the better and purification.
ZUZU'S FIRST FLUSH DARJEELING
Promotes spiritual growth and understanding, connects one with the land. Excellent for working with spirit guides.
ZUZU'S MAGNOLIA BLOSSOM OOLONG
The oolong helps in meditation and concentration while the magnolia blossom creates a sense of inner and outer beauty, love, loyalty, marital balance, harmony, and peace. It is also excellent for overcoming addictions, obsessive behaviors, and fears.
ZUZU'S 2010 VINTAGE CARAMEL DREAM PU-ERH
This tea allows you to feel the richness in life and connect with the earth. It heals negative thought patterns as well as energizes the body and mind. The caramel promotes love, happiness, love, sweetness, riches and self worth while the vanilla promotes playfulness, lust, energy, and passion.
CIDER SPICE NOIR
A love spell in a cup.