From an extract from “Divination with Tea Leaves“:
“The Origins of Tea Leaf reading.
In Chinese tradition tea was used in China as early as 3000 BC as one of the elixirs of long-life and, it was said, came out of an egg when the Divine Artisan was creating the world. According to Buddhist legend the first tea leaves came from the eyelids of the meditating Holy One who cut them off to prevent himself from falling asleep while he was meditating.
Tea was used for divination in the Orient from almost the beginning and the tea ceremonies still practised in Japan today have their roots in meditation and creating that quiet space in which insight can come spontaneously.”
In recent times, coffee grounds tasseomancy is being featured on TV travel programmes, the novelty practice being an extension of fortune-telling by the local ancient tradition of tea-leaf reading. Coffee grounds tasseography has been the tradition of the Greek, Serbian, Romanian and Turkish peoples …
“Symbolism has long been used in divination. In ancient China and Japan, people saw the patterns in tea leaves as a reflection of the world at each moment. The art of reading tea leaves, or tasseography, has survived and remains a simple way of looking at the past, present and future through symbols. ” — Tea Time Divination: Reading Tea Leaves, Daily OM, October 18, 2004
Which came first, coffee-grounds or tea-leaf reading?
From Sahar Huneidi in Your Fortune In A (Coffee) Cup gives us the answer:
“The origins of coffee cup readings stem from the ancient Chinese art of tea leaves reading practised for centuries; originally by monks who ceremonially drank tea in bell shaped cups. Before that, it is thoughts that monks used to read patterns formed on the internal part of bells in temples, so the handle-less teacup was a logical progression.
This was later adapted to coffee rounds reading by the Arabs, who first discovered coffee beans around 600 AD and managed to keep coffee as a secret, having a monopoly on cultivating and drinking coffee for several hundred years. Coffee made its way and became known or used as a beverage in Western Europe and the Americas, only in the late 19th century.
Both tea leaves and coffee cup readings are known as Tasseography, or tasseomancy ( in kafemandeia in Greek). When I first moved to London, I met several women from different countries and cultural backgrounds who had the ability to read the future in a cup. The art was very much alive and practiced by these various seers from Greece, Persia, Russia, Armenia and Yugoslavia.