I have been drinking tea since I was about two-years-old, coffee since I was 10, and I still regularly drink coffee, but tea holds a special fascination for me. There is so much variety in tea, so much potential. A nice cup of Earl Grey with honey can start your day on a positive note, and it's even better in late afternoon when coffee would be too much. My tea preference has always been loose leaf as I love to see and smell the swirl of tea dust and leaves in the cup. Jasmine green is an especial favorite and I pair it with madeleines, Earl Grey is always paired with pecan shortbread or my own homemade petitgrain sur fleur neroli shortbread cookies. Pu-erh tea is for introspection, matcha for inspiration. Lapsong souchong is for dark, cold nights when comfort is required. I also love the ritual of tea. It's my own ritual, and it's relatively new to this fall and coming winter season, but it is a ritual nonetheless. Hot tea must be drunk from a tea cup with a saucer, otherwise it doesn't feel right. It must be sniffed while sipped, the cup held with two hands, as if to cradle it. When the liquid is gone, the cup is inverted onto the saucer for a moment, and then tea leaves clinging to the inside of the cup are 'read'. What is in store for me today, sweet tea? And the leaves tell me in dots and shapes that today will be good, or bad, or ugly. Sometimes the leaves tell me nothing at all, but leave a lingering shadow of bitterness and rust on my tongue.
A recent class I've been taking has brought back all these memories of tea leaf reading from when I was a kid. I've always been a voracious reader, and my mother, also a voracious reader, would get boxes and boxes of old books donated to her from well-meaning relatives and friends who knew how we whiled away our days. In one of those boxes was an old fortune-telling book missing its front and back covers. It was a fascination to me, and I devoured it with my eight-year-old eyes, and took to heart what was written in its pages. I learned palmistry, iridology, scrying with mirrors and crystal balls, reading tarot with playing cards, how to use pendulums for divination. It was a treasure trove of information that fed well my very active imagination. There was also a small section on tea leaf reading, and I remember trying to use chopped Lipton tea in a drinking glass to 'divine' my near future. It was all relatively tame stuff, and that book is long gone, lost in a move or left behind somewhere. Also lost to the ravages of time, and a fair bit of stress in my life, is what I learned from that book. So I've been on a quest these past few months -- actually since a friend and I put on a high tea in October -- to relearn tea leaf reading, or, rather, tasseomancy, the art of divination through tea leaf shapes. In October I asked everyone I could think of if they knew a tea leaf reader and no one did. In fact, it seems to be a dying art. Too quaint for some of these hard-core divinators who use multiple tarot decks, stones, blazing candles, and chicken blood to get answers from the universe or the other side or wherever.
So I'm relearning tasseomancy. I think it's the sweetness of it, the practicality of it, that has drawn me in.
But, I also love tea. Just drinking the stuff. Finding nice blends of teas and savoring them, and it's been a dream of mine for some while to create my own tea blends, but there was always something else to do, soaps to make, perfume to invent, incense to conjure, and tea blending was pushed further and further away. Until tasseomancy came back into my life. On a spur of the moment decision, I ordered a mess of tea blending raw materials and have created two teas for drinking and tasseomancy.