The Mystic Tea Room

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The Mystic Tea Room is entirely funded by sales of fortune telling tea cups and the tasseomancy instruction book "The Stranger in the Cup: How to Read Your Luck and Fate in the Tea Leaves" by Gregory Lee White and catherine yronwode, published in 2020. Nine dollars (plus shipping) will help support this project and get you a copy of "The Stranger in the Cup." Read all about the book, and order it here:
Sheet Music: In a Little Gypsy Tea Room
1950s-era Cup of Knowledge by Aynsley featuring a design of buttercups
"Reading Tea Leaves" by Harry Roseland, 1910
According to this 1907 Fred Lounsbury postcard, when tea leaves form an image of a Tree, it is an omen of good health
Blue Parrot Tea Room, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, interior, postcard front, linen era

Hello, and welcome to The Mystic Tea Room.

The Mystic Tea Room is dedicated to preserving and popularizing the traditional divinatory art of reading tea leaves (and coffee grounds), an art variously known as tea leaf reading, cup reading, tasseomancy (cup divination), tasseography (cup writing), and cup tossing. The site has been online since 2007. It was converted from html to media-wiki in 2011 for increased ease of image categorization, and it now hosts about 300 illustrated pages on the the history and material culture of divination by tea leaves. When built out, it will be home to at least 1,000 pages of curated divination imagery.

Support for The Mystic Tea Room comes from The Mystic Tea Room Gift Shop, where you can purchase "The Stranger in the Cup: How to Read Your Luck and Fate in the Tea Leaves" by Gregory Lee White and catherine yronwode, as well as an array of antique fortune telling tea cups. Read all about the book, and order it online here.


The Museum of Fortune Telling Tea Cups and Saucers

The Museum of Fortune Telling Tea Cups and Saucers is dedicated to preserving and popularizing images of fortune telling cups and the traditional divinatory art of reading tea leaves (and coffee grounds) through the presentation of a virtual gallery in which are displayed and interpreted the many beautiful fortune telling teacups and saucers that have been created for the purpose of aiding tea leaf readers and fortune tellers in the practice of the tasseomantic art.

In the Museum, you will find detailed images of dozens of fortune teller's tea cups and saucers, patent drawings for a number of divination cups, brief historical overviews of the designers and manufacturers of fortune telling cups, and a selected bibliography of books and pamphlets about the occult and magical art of tea leaf reading. Browse the Tea Cup Index by Name or the Tea Cup Index by Maker and click on the image of any tea cup and saucer set to see more pictures of that cup and saucer and read more about the set's history and how it was used for fortune telling.

Instruction in Tasseomancy

Divination by means of tea leaf reading is a long-cherished form of domestic fortune telling. It may be performed at home for oneself, family, or friends, and there are also professional tea leaf readers who will brew a cup for you, allow you to drink it, and read your leaves for you. The information in my article on How To Read Tea Leaves will help you get started.

Tea Leaf Reading in Art

The image of a female fortune teller reading tea leaves has, since the 19th century, been a subject of gallery art, popular commercial art, and cartooning. One prominent 19th and 20th century painter who produced many variations on this theme was Harry Roseland. If you like art, you may enjoy my essay on Roseland's art and the Cuban spirit known as La Madama -- it covers several types of African American divination in addition to cup reading. While you're here, take a look at some of the tea room match book covers, tea room menus, and related tea room ephemera i have come across in our own research on the subject of fortune telling by tea cups.

The Material Culture of Tea Leaf Reading

Reading tea leaves is a form of divination that is known for its many female practitioners, and therefore its history is also the history of women in society. Here you can learn about the tea room movement and view a world-wide gallery of strange and curious tea rooms of the past, many of which were woman-run and quite a few of which offered a "free reading with every meal."

Bibliography of Books about Tasseomancy

If collecting books is your passion, you may enjoy our Bibliography of Books about Tasseomancy. It will never be complete -- and we look forward to suggestions and contributions of information from our readers.

The Mystic Tea Room Gift Shop

In addition to our function as an online archive of tasseography and tea room culture, The Mystic Tea Room also maintains a small Gift Shop, where unusual, antique, vintage, modern, contemporary, and one-of-a-kind fortune telling tea cups and saucers -- and their accompanying tasseomancy booklets, pamphlets, and instruction sheets -- are for sale. The revenue generated from the sale of these fortune telling cups supports the 300-plus pages of free instruction material provided here to all.


And, finally, some off-topic pages are here:


Thank you for seeking us out,

catherine yronwode
curator, historian, and docent
The Mystic Tea Room

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