I know that others have written about the methodology of reading the leaves, so I will share some of the things that particularly stood out to me:

  • Vintage china works very well for reading the leaves. It’s easier, however, to stick with teacups that are unadorned on the inside – at least while learning. On the other hand — considering the clumsy manner in which I “threw” the teacup onto the saucer —  despite my love for vintage teacups, I would personally prefer to practice on something very solid and sturdy! ( The ones Amanda provided for the class were a very practical cup-and-saucer set from Ikea. And the clack!-clack!-clack! of the class all throwing them was an interesting sound. )

notes from the class including sketches of imagesMy notes from the class, including sketches of the images I saw

  • Amanda suggested that while drinking the tea we ponder our question. She also suggested that we could reach out to whatever guides or guardians or sources of wisdom we personally look to for guidance. Another suggestion was to think about the tea itself. As a result, I found myself sipping my tea with my eyes closed, as I mentally traced the leaves backward: From my cup, to the tin on the table, to the store, to the warehouse… all the way back to India, where it was picked and grown. I imagined the warmth of the sun on the leaves, and the energies of life and green and growth. I held onto an appreciation and gratitude for the land and the plants and the field workers who so diligently tend and groom and later pick the tea itself.
  • When peering into the leaves, one very effective tactic is to “unfocus” the eyes, such as what one did when gazing at one of the “hidden picture” images that were so popular in the 90s. This makes it much easier to slowly turn the teacup until a shape “pops” out at you as recognizable.

Dregs of tea and some tea leaves in the bottom of the saucerDregs of tea and some tea leaves in the bottom of the saucer

  • I knew that we were supposed to look for shapes in the leaves, and that each shape was prescribed a different meaning based upon a set standard list. What I didn’t realize was that it’s not actually required that you strictly follow those meanings. So, for example, the first shape that I saw was something that had an immediate and visceral meaning for me that was completely different than the conventional one. I asked Amanda, and she said that it’s also important to listen to our intuition. I found this to be a great comfort, as I’ve always been an intuition-driven tarot reader. I immediately felt a great deal more comfortable with the entire process!
  • I found it intriguing that you also divine meaning from the leaves that are in the saucer and not just those in the cup! In fact, the saucer can give a good foundational or background meaning. The first two of the three times I “threw” the leaves during the class, I saw a phoenix in the saucer, which had a lot of significance for me personally, and was also rather comforting.
  • I left the class feeling very positive about the experience, especially with the similarities and way it resonated so well with my existing practice of reading the tarot. I felt that was definitely something I would do again.

On my way out, I made certain to buy some loose tea from The Jasmine Pearl. It seemed the right thing to do, after they so generously hosted the event! I picked out a lovely Assam that I enjoyed for many mornings after.

Reflecting back on the class, I’ve been inspired to once again try my hand at reading the leaves. Strangely, despite my decently high level of Google-Fu, I have not found much about reading tea leaves from a gaiwan and whether that would make a difference. So, my next adventure will involve acquiring a teacup and saucer that might survive me! After that, I am planning on trying to organize a session of reading/teaching/practicing to read the leaves virtually over video chat – as a virtual tea leaf reading party! Feel free to let me know in the comments if you’d like to join me. Time allowing and limiting, of course.

Images provided and copyright held by author