Although it is not that easy to find a tea-leaf reader – or tasseographer – in Los Angeles, I managed to find one – Pat – who graciously allowed me to interview her.  I asked her how she became a tea-leaf reader and what lessons amateur tasseographers can learn from her expert techniques.  In the paragraphs below, I relate what I learned from Pat. our interview, Pat plainly recalled a pivotal, life-changing experience from 50+ years ago.  When she was only four years old, she discovered her tea-leaf-reading gift.  Pat remembers sitting on her grandmother’s knee while the older woman read tea leaves for other female members of the family.  As Pat’s grandmother sipped her own cup of tea, her young granddaughter exclaimed with eagerness that she would read her grandmother’s tea leaves.  She said to her grandmother, “You read everyone else’s tea leaves, so I am going to read yours.”  Pat told her grandmother “things about the family that a four-year-old wouldn’t know.”

During this incident with her grandmother, four-year-old Pat told a story involving a time her aunt visited a priest and got thrown into a closet.  This narrative, uttered in front of the adults of Pat’s family, seemed eerily mature and shrewd.  Adult words seemed to come out of her mouth.  From that time on, Pat explained, everyone in her family would say, “She’s got the vision; she’s got the vision.”  Her family always knew that she had this gift.  Every Sunday after dinner, the women in the family would hang out in the kitchen and get their leaves read. 

After years of getting her tea leaves read, as well as reading tea leaves for other members of her family, Pat became an accomplished reader.  

According to Pat, this gift of reading tea leaves is based on practice as well as natural talent.  In Pat’s words, it is possible for anyone to read tea leaves, but few people have practiced for 53 years like she has.  For Pat, the process involves gazing into a teacup and visualizing images in a kind of moving, constantly changing picture.  One should examine his or her vision carefully, asking again and again what the symbols mean.

To do it Pat’s way, first submerge a teacup in a bowl full of tea with the loose tea leaves floating freely.  Then take the cup out of the bowl and spin the liquid within the cup using a whisk.  As the tea drifts around the cup, dream about what you want to happen within a year.  Pour out the liquid, leaving the tea leaves on the side of the cup.  The symbols correspond to your fortune.  To interpret the symbols, consult a book on tasseography.