I’ve mentioned before that I was once involved with living history. Our odd hobby began in 1984 and we raised our family in it. At one point, from April to October and just about every weekend we participated in living history events across five states. Oh to have that stamina again!
One of my fondest memories was tea time. I’d set out my linen and china, my silver spoons and silver service, then invite my colonial lady friends and the occasional colonial gentleman to our camp. I’d brew tea to go with fire-baked shortbread, cobbler, and dried fruits. Our accouterments were the genuine article. You have to have antiques or fine reproductions to portray living history with any degree of authenticity. The goal was always the suspension of disbelief for the public as well as ourselves. I used a special tea called Lapsang souchong — the first black tea in history. And I did more than pour. I read the tea leaves between refills–divining our fortunes in the bottom of our china cups.
For the next few days my symbol series will cover symbols for divination and luck charms.
Mention tea leaves and the first thought that often comes to mind is the Gypsy fortuneteller of old. Scrutinizing sediment in the bottom of drinking vessels is actually an ancient practice that occurred all over the world. This wasn’t done by tea leaves alone. People hunted for patterns in coffee grounds and wine sediments left in their cups too. Why? For the same reason people read horoscopes. I suppose man always wants to know what’s around the bend.
The only things I have left from our living history days are my silver spoons and the old book I learned from. I still read leaves for fun, and to set the mood, use my small collection of vintage bone china teacups specially made for that purpose.
Tea leaf reading is known as tasseography.
Tasse = cup
Graphy = drawing
When the last small sip is left in the teacup, the leaves clump up and form patterns. The patterns have meanings. Example: if the pattern looks like a chicken, expect a chatty visitor.
If you’d like to give tasseography a try you don’t need Lapsang souchong tea. Some tea readers just open regular old black tea teabags and brew their tea as usual. Here are two nice sites with pattern info.
Tomorrow ~ More!
“The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another. “
~James Matthew Barrie
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