How a Cup of Tea Gave me Travel Itch

Tea Leaf Reading

I was five years old when I knew for sure that I would be a traveller.

My grandmother saw it in the bottom of a cup. A clump of soggy tea leaves told her so and I believed it with all my heart.

After that first reading, I would got goosebumps in anticipation every time we went to my grandparents’ house. I knew that Grandma would put on a pot of tea as soon as we arrived, and I would get to see what kind of adventures awaited me when I grew up.

She saw my gallivanting future in the tiny signs that the tea goddesses left behind. I would gulp down the hot drink as fast as I could (I wasn’t an actual fan of the tea until I got older),to get to the good part.

She instructed me to carefully flip the cup upside down on my saucer, and turn it clockwise three times while making a wish.

After that, it was up to her to interpret the shapes and designs that the leaves created. My tea-cup always held voyages and exotic escapades and at the end of the readings we were both buzzing with excitement (and maybe a cup too many of caffeinated tea.)

My family moved around a lot, (think roving gypsies but with cowboy hats) but we didn’t travel internationally so knowing that I would be going to far-away lands was beyond exciting for me.

Some 30 years later (wow, seeing how long ago something was in writing is always a little bit shocking), I have ridden camels across the Sahara Desert, eaten raw (and still moving) octopus in South Korea, and danced on graves on Day of the Dead in Mexico. I had my heart shattered to pieces in Spain, broke a few over a couple of continents to get even, and have seen things and met people that only Grandma could have imagined.

I don’t know if she really saw the future in those cups all those years ago or if she was just a great story-teller.

Either way, foreseen or not, her tea leaf readings put the notion in my head that traipsing across the globe was a hell of a good idea. It also gave me the guts to do it alone. I always felt like Grandma and the tea fairies had my back.


The art of tea-leaf reading, referred to as tasseomancy, tasseography or teomancy is believed to have been started in China. It has been around for some 5000 years and practiced in Europe, the Middle East and in my grandmother’s kitchen in North America.

Whether you take the fortunes seriously or not, tea leaf reading is a wonderfully whimsical experience, and sitting down to a good cup of tea to reflect and share stories (especially with someone you love) is always a good idea.

What first inspired your wanderlust? I would love to hear about it!

Has anyone had their tea leaves read or know of any cool tea shops to visit?


7 responses to “How a Cup of Tea Gave me Travel Itch

  1. I haven’t had tea leaves read. I’ve had my palms read and a tarot reading. And all of them said I’d have a long life that would be really nice. Nothing really about travel, so maybe it just kind of all got lumped in. I wonder if anyone can read tea leaves in the LA area. hmm…


  2. As a tea lover and someone who has gypsy blood (literally) this was an AWESOME read! I haven’t had my tea leaves read, mostly because I live each day for itself, but maybe someday. 🙂


    • Thanks Heather. I know what you mean…buying into predictions can take away from the present. I see it more as a whimsical experience more than anything. Of course my own personal tea leaf reader was a very special lady so its a unique case 😉 ( I think she probably tweaked her reading quite a bit to fit in with what she knew I was interested in).


  3. Just had my first tea leaf readings and I’m a tea lover too. Dabbling in tarot, astrology, numerology has got me trying these things I never imagined I’d try. Like go and sit in a card reader’s space … Huh? But I actually love it. She said all these things about boats, travel, water which resonated from the card readings she’d done earlier. i take it as a fun experience not as “predicting the future. ” if anything these readings just help one set things in motion. Lovely article

    Liked by 1 person

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