Sunday, 14 September 2014

Tea Reading

Until yesterday I hadn't given all the much thought to tea reading, well apart from the professor of Divination -and more specifically Tassomancy- in Harry Potter, Sybil Trelawney. A number of people used to say I looked like her due to my thick black rimmed glasses, I'm sure it was meant as an insult but I rather liked her. 

That aside, yesterday I was asked if I'd like to read people's tea leaves at a tea festival next weekend held at Gyllyngdune Gardens in Falmouth. I said yes (of course!) It's the most beautiful location but also what an exciting prospect. I've long been interested in the performative aspects of fortune telling, and although I hadn't given all that much thought to tea reading I am now on a mission to learn!

These pictures are a little taster of what I might wear for the occasion and the expressions I might make on learning your fortune. They are of course inspired by the aforementioned Sybil Trelawney but also in part by Holman Hunt's paintings, in particular this one of his first wife Fanny, for his use of colour and mad eyes (though I have to say Fanny's expression is a little more restrained than his usual models, see The Awakening Conscience).

Sources: 12

If you'd like to practice the art of tea reading (or Tasseography, Tasseomancy or Tassology as it's also know) you will need:

A round tea cup with sloping sides and a saucer
Loose tea (preferably a tasty, aromatic one with smallish leaves)
An open mind
A question you'd like answered

Begin by brewing your tea. Sip it until you have roughly an inch of liquid left. Clear your mind and breath deeply. Think of the question that you would like answered. Swirl the cup counterclockwise three times (clockwise if you're male). Tip the excess liquid and tea leaves into your saucer. Read the leaves left in the cup starting from the top and working down. The outer rim suggests the present and the base is the future. 

Here is a list of basic symbols to help you on your way:

Outfit Details

Silk embroidered smock dress - Gift from my mummy

Floral velvet 1960s skirt - Kilo shop in Poland

Head scarf - Charity shop

Wooden beads and feather necklace - Charity shops

Greek silver owl pendant - Belonged to my maternal grandmother

Eye brooch - Topshop sale (years ago when I worked there)

Pom pom scarf - Gift from a friend

Claddagh ring - A shop in Galway


I did it again and forgot one very important influence on these images; the painting, The Death of Thomas Chatterton by Henry Wallis

Source: 1


  1. Once again some profoundly useful information, inspiration and beauty from Lally. XXXXOOO

  2. Really a wonderful post, I love your photographs!

  3. Oh my gosh, I have the same pom-pom scarf!!! I just bought it in an antique shop ^_^

  4. Gorgeous photos, you put those Pre Raphaelite art works to shame! x

  5. Stunning photos doll, love the atmosphere and reading tea leaves sounds really interesting, will read more about this for sure :))) I hope you have a great week xx

  6. Reading tea leaves sounds so interesting, what fun! Great photoshoot as well :)

  7. Well, you certainly look the part, of tea reader, that is. And surely that will be the most important aspect don't you think? And the most rewarding. You do have the best role models. Perhaps you can have a cheat sheet available for reference as needed, as a placemat? Can't wait to hear/see the results. I hope you do keep us posted. And thanks for stopping by Project Minima too.

  8. I absolutely adore every post you write. When I was little I had a little obsession about
    tea readers and all those things, especially after reading and watching Harry Potter movies,
    hahaha. The photoshoot is wonderful and I love your hairstyle, you're such an inspiration,

    With love,

  9. Haha! I'd love to have my tea leaves read by you, I bet you'd tell a right good tale, and boy do you look the part Lally Petulengro! Xxx

  10. I want you to do a tea reading for me! You are perfect in every way and my senses are tingling now after looking at your sumptuous images.

  11. You commented on a (recently old) blog of mine, Swoon for the Moon - I'm so glad you did, and that I discovered your blog! So so beautiful and unique!

  12. What do you do with the people why you wait for them to finish their tea? Just wondering. I love your look and your blog is super cool!


    1. It was in a very beautiful garden (the tea festival) so they wandered around that whilst sipping their tea and clearing their mind. Then when they had only an teaspoon of tea left they came back to have them read. X

  13. You've done it again - you've taken me far far far away from my desk in London and I feel like I've touched on something magic just looking at your images here.

    I get a lot of dashes - hmmmmmm

  14. Eureka! I'm so glad I followed the path to your blog from "You Can Call Me Sue"! What lush images -- and what very useful information about tea leaves.

  15. wow you left me speechless with those absolutely dreamy and beautiful photographs! you are gorgeous!!! and even if i never was a big fan of tea i loved that post a lot!