The Mystic Tea Room

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Sheet Music: "In a Little Gypsy Tea Room," from Tea Leaf Reading in Art

The Mystic Tea Room is dedicated to the traditional art of fortune telling by tea leaves, also known as tea leaf reading, cup reading, cup tossing, divination by tea leaves, tasseomancy, and tasseography.

Contents

Greetings

1950s-era Cup of Knowledge by Aynsley featuring a design of buttercups, from The Museum of Fortune Telling Tea Cups and Saucers.
Evangeline Day was a well-known syndicated radio and newspaper astrologer of the 20th century who patented two different astrology tea cups and saucers; this design dates from 1936, from Fortune Telling Tea Cup Design Patents.

Hello, and welcome to The Mystic Tea Room.

This tasseomancy 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 450 illustrated pages on tea cups, the history and material culture of tea, tea rooms, and fortune telling by tea leaves. When fully built out, it will be home to at least 1,000 pages of curated tea cup and tea leaf divination tutorials, imagery, and history.

If you like tea, tea rooms, and tea leaf divination — this site is where to be. If you want to explore everything divination, check out our sister-site, Your Wate and Fate, where you can read and learn about divination by sortilege, wheels and spinners, palmistry, cartomancy, floriography, and astrology.

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.

Instructions in Tasseomancy

According to this 1907 Fred Lounsbury postcard, when tea leaves form an image of a Tree, it is an omen of good health, from Tea Leaf Symbols in Art.
A Bamforth comic postcard, circa 1930, showing the image of a lucky black cat in the tea leaves, from A Basic List of Tea Leaf Symbols.

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

"Reading Tea Leaves" by Harry Roseland, 1910, from Harry Roseland's Fortune Teller 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 the artwork on some of the tea leaf reading and tea company ephemera i have come across in my own research on the subject of fortune telling by tea cups. Here you will find tea leaf reading as idealized and glorified in art.

The Material Culture of Tea Rooms

Blue Parrot Tea Room, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, interior, postcard front, linen era, from Vintage Tea Room Postcards.
Egyptian Tea Room, Kansas City, Missouri, where Don Luis, "the Boy Who Sees Tomorrow," provides free readings, from Vintage Tea Room Business Cards.

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. One way to study history is to examine the material culture -- the objects and artifacts associated with a time or a place.

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."

Tea Cultivation and Tea Companies

In order to read tea leaves, we must first have tea. The cups are covered in The Museum of Fortune Telling Tea Cups and Saucers, but the tea itself enters those beautiful cups as a product of cultivation, export and import, packaging, and advertisement.

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 bibliography is accompanied by cover images of rare books and pamphlets on tea leaf reading from times gone by, as well as by my own annotations about the contents of the books and their authors.

The Mystic Tea Room on Social Media

As the Mystic Tea Room has grown, so has its community of fans, friends, and followers. If you love this site and have questions or something to contribute, we invite you to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, We post new items every week

Support the Mystic Tea Room

Support me on Patreon! "From the Land of Tea" allows my Patreon subscribers to access bonus articles and scans about tea leaf reading and tea room culture for a small monthly donation.
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. Nine dollars (plus shipping) will help support this project and get you a copy of "The Stranger in the Cup" from The Mystic Tea Room Gift Shop. Read all about the book, and order it here: [1].

All of the material you have access to here -- the fabulous tea cups, the instructive booklets, the nostalgic postcards, the boldly graphic matchbook covers, and all of the historical information researched and shared from the mind of the woman who is making it all happen -- can easily fit into one 8 x 10 foot room in an old Victorian farmhouse, but you would never see it without the investment of the time it takes to produce such a site and the caloric input such a site requires in the form of food for the writer, graphic designer, and database manager, as well as the US currency needed to pay for the computers, software applications, scanners, electricity, and internet connectivity that bring it out of that little room and into the world. So, as you can see, this site is the darling of many, and it is growing at a rapid rate ... but although it is "free," there also is a cost. Your financial support underwrites this cost. Here is how you can help.

  • 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. Here 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. Read all about the book, and order it online here.
  • "From the Land of Tea: The Material Culture of Tea and Tea Leaf Reading"

An adjunct to my tasseomancy site, The Mystic Tea Room. Patreon advance web pages. Patrons have private access to web pages one year before they are made available to the public, at the rate of four new web pages per month, distributed at weekly intervals. These web pages fall into a series of interconnected topics or streams of thought. Patrons also have access to a Private Patreon sub-forum within the Lucky Mojo Forum, and will be accorded special Red Star Avatar badges at the Forum.

To sign up, go to my Patreon page: https://www.patreon.com/catherineyronwode

Surprise!

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

Patron-Funded Galleries Now Open to the Public

Galleries for Patrons - Opening to the Public Soon

Some of our Sister-Sites:

THE LUCKY W AMULET ARCHIVE by CATHERINE YRONWODE: http://LuckyMojo.com/luckywindex.html

  • An online book about good luck artifacts: The web's largest illustrated descriptive archive of folkloric amulets, talismans, charms, and magical stuff from many cultures and every era. An education for all.

SOUTHERN SPIRITS: WHERE THE SOUTHERN CROSS THE YELLOW DOG: http://SouthernSpirits.org

  • An annotated and edited collection of rare 19th and early 20th century writings on African American hoodoo and magical spirituality, documented through slave narratives, interviews, and contemporary newspaper and magazine accounts.

THE MYSTIC TEA ROOM: TEA LEAF READING GALLERY AND LEARNING CENTER: http://MysticTeaRoom.com

  • A celebration of the material culture of Tasseomancy, Tasseography, Teacup Divination, and Telling Fortunes by Tea Leaves, featuring a Museum of Fortune Telling Tea Cups and Saucers and a Tea Leaf Readers' Gift Shop.

THE LUCKY MOJO CURIO CO. OCCULT SHOP CATALOGUE: http://LuckyMojo.com/catalogue

  • Lucky Mojo manufactures hoodoo oils, incense, powders, spell kits, and candles. We grow our own herbs and we carry a full line of occult books, amulets, talismans, and religious goods. Complete occult shop inventory online.

Thanks

Thank you for seeking us out,

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


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