The best kind of tea to use if tea-cup reading is to be followed is
undoubtedly China tea, the original tea imported into this country and
still the best for all purposes. Indian tea and the cheaper mixtures
contain so much dust and so many fragments of twigs and stems as often
to be quite useless for the purposes of divination, as they will not
combine to form pictures, or symbols clearly to be discerned.
The best shape of cup to employ is one with a wide opening at the top
and a bottom not too small. Cups with almost perpendicular sides are
very difficult to read, as the symbols cannot be seen properly, and
the same may be said of small cups. A plain-surfaced breakfast-cup is
perhaps the best to use; and the interior should be white and have no
pattern printed upon it, as this confuses the clearness of the picture
presented by the leaves, as does any fluting or eccentricity of shape.
The ritual to be observed is very simple. The tea-drinker should
drink the contents of his or her cup so as to leave only about half a
teaspoonful of the beverage remaining. He should next take the cup by
the handle in his left hand, rim upwards, and turn it three times from
left to right in one fairly rapid swinging movement. He should then very
slowly and carefully invert it over the saucer and leave it there for a
minute, so as to permit of all moisture draining away.
If he approaches the oracle at all seriously he should during the whole
of these proceedings concentrate his mind upon his future Destiny, and
'will' that the symbols forming under the guidance of his hand and
arm (which in their turn are, of course, directed by his brain) shall
correctly represent what is destined to happen to him in the future.
If, however, he or she is not in such deadly earnest, but merely
indulging in a harmless pastime, such an effort of concentration need
not be made. The 'willing' is, of course, akin to 'wishing' when cutting
the cards in another time-honoured form of fortune-telling.
The cup to be read should be held in the hand and turned about in order
to read the symbols without disturbing them, which will not happen
if the moisture has been properly drained away. The handle of the cup
represents the consultant and is akin to the 'house' in divination by
the cards. By this fixed point judgment is made as to events approaching
the 'house' of the consultant, journeys away from home, messages or
visitors to be expected, relative distance, and so forth. The advantage
of employing a cup instead of a saucer is here apparent.
'The bottom of the cup represents the remoter future foretold; the side
events not so far distant; and matters symbolised near the rim those
that may be expected to occur quickly. The nearer the symbols approach
the handle in all three cases the nearer to fulfilment will be the
If this simple ritual has been correctly carried out the tea-leaves,
whether many or few, will be found distributed about the bottom and
sides of the cup. The fortune may be equally well told whether there are
many leaves or few; but of course there must be some, and therefore the
tea should not have been made in a pot provided with one of the patent
arrangements that stop the leaves from issuing from the spout when the
beverage is poured into the cups. There is nothing to beat one of the
plain old-fashioned earthenware teapots, whether for the purpose of
preparing a palatable beverage or for that of providing the means of
telling a fortune.