15-17 November 2024
Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre

As a Little girl, I would sit under the dining table and eaves drop on my mother as she read tea for the lovely men and women that would grace our kitchen. Each day was filled with new faces, and spectacular stories that flowed from the teapot to the cup and then on to the person eager for information. You could say that tea was simply a way of life in our little yellow house.

Now 15 years on, I share the same traditions with beautiful people at my own kitchen table, drinking delicious brews, explaining history and interpreting symbols for those who wish to peek into their leaves.

Tea reading is a classic art form falling into the world of Tasseomancy or the art of reading cups. Being able to see the pictures in a cup is both a gift and a learned skill and I am a firm believer that everyone possesses the abilities to gaze into the humble teacup.

Have you ever had a ­­cup of liquid tea goodness and felt it could be telling you something? Here are my family’s special steps for how to read tea, the O’Reilly way.


  • Select a shallow pale surfaced teacup. It should be bowl like in structure with a single handle and no major distractions such as images on the inside.
  • Choose your tea. This can be any tea or tisane you feel comfortable drinking. Teas that are darker in colour and somewhat fine will increase detail and larger leafed teas or herbal tisanes will provide more 3 dimensional images.
  • Brew your teapot *Without a strainer! Or load your cup. Loading a cup is done by placing half to two thirds of a teaspoon of tea into your cup and adding hot water so as to brew the tea directly. Often those who prefer pot tea also load their cup with a little extra once brewed.


  • Enjoy your cup of tea! As soon as there is liquid in your cup it is important that you are the only person to touch it
  • Drink as much as you can. The leaves (or dregs) will accumulate at the bottom of your cup and then with intention, tilt, shake and/ or swirl your cup until you are content.
  • Pour your remaining liquid out of the cup and place the cup upside down in the resting pose. Leave it here for 1-2 minutes to drain and then you’re reading to read!


There are only two and a half rules.

  1. Don’t let anyone touch your cup when there is liquid inside it
  2. Enjoy what you’re drinking.
    2.5  Always ask permission if reading for someone other than yourself.


To see the pictures all you need an open mind. To interpret them however, you need an open heart.

All cups are read from the handle like the face of a clock, with each hour representing one of the twelve months ahead. When reading the images a story is woven, intertwining symbolic meanings with the timeframe and often reflecting nature to paint a beautiful picture.

But what do the pictures mean!?

My favourite way to interpret is to “go back to nature” and to always think of how the image I see relates to the world. Dictionaries are also a great way to learn about image meanings and following one’s gut instinct is extremely valuable too.

Happy reading everyone!
-Annie O’Reilly