Tasseography (also known as tasseomancy and tassology) – the reading and divination of one’s future through the reading of tea or coffee remnants in a cup. The word comes from the French word tasse (cup) which is a cognate of the Arabic word tassa (cup or goblet). While the suffixes are from the Greek words –graphy (writing), -mancy (divination) and -ology (the study of).
The art of reading tea leaves had come to Europe long before the Victorian era, usually a task performed by Romanies or gypsies. It did not reach its peak of popularity until the Victorian era. It was during this time, especially in England, that it was tradition to have afternoon tea. The idea was introduced by a lady-in-waiting to Queen Victoria, Anna Maria Stanhope (1783 – 1857) who was also known as the Duchess of Bedford. Its popularity grew because it allowed people, especially the women, to sit and gossip. Tasseography’s popularity also grew in parallel to afternoon tea at the same time because the tea was readily available and it was thought to be a fun parlor game.
During the same time period, psychoanalysis was growing prodigiously, which in turn help boost tea leaf reading. This is thought to be because tea leaf reading is simply the reading and understanding of symbols. In essence, anyone could do it. It did not take someone with psychic abilities to perform this ritual. With the field of psychoanalysis growing, this led to a greater understanding of the human psyche in relation to symbols and archetypes.
Why do you think, dear readers? Would you like to try your hand at tasseography or tasseomancy? I found a few sites on the subject that actually tell you step by step how to pour, strain and even which hand to use in order to pick up your cup.