It’s no secret that tea has been around for a long time. According to Chinese legend, tea was accidentally discovered 5,000 years ago when Emperor Shen-nung was boiling water and some tea leaves fell into his pot. However, the earliest mention of tea that historians actually trust is in an ancient Chinese dictionary from 350 B.C. (still a long time ago!). Regardless of when tea was actually discovered, it’s been around for quite some time, and in the process of making its way from China through the trade routes to Europe and eventually over to the American colonies in the United States, some superstitions around tea have been developed.
Here are some of our favorites.
Tea Making Superstitions
Check your stems. A stem standing upright in your tea is lucky. Tea merchants used to have a problem selling tea with stems in it, so they started telling customers that the standing stems were good luck. If a single stalk comes to the top, it could mean a stranger will visit, or the arrival of a lover!
Be sure to drop some leaves. Accidentally dropping loose-leaf tea in your house will bring you good luck. Scattering tea leaves in front of your house should ward off evil spirits.
Be aware of your brew. Brewing a strong tea means you will likely gain a new friend, but a weak tea means you may lose a friend. Stirring the tea counter clockwise may cause you to get into an argument with a friend.
Other things to be careful of: Putting milk in your tea before sugar could condemn you to a life of solitude. Leaving the top off the teapot could mean a stranger will bring bad news. It’s very bad to forget to put the tea in the pot before adding the boiling water. You will receive bad news within the week if your tag falls off your teabag while the bag is in your cup.
Tea Drinking Superstitions
How to make a baby (or how to avoid making a baby): If two women pour from the same pot, one of them will have a baby within a year. If a man and a woman take turns pouring from the same pot, they will have a baby together!
Bubbles are good. Bubbles stuck to the side of the cup represent the number of kisses you may receive, while bubbles in the middle of the cup indicate you will be rich. The more bubbles, the more money!
Tea leaves in your cup are a good sign, too. The more leaves that end up in your cup, the fuller your life will be. If any pieces of leaves float to the top, it is an indication of a visit from a stranger or lover.
Tea Leaf Readings
A long-used divination tool around the world, many cultures still use tea leaf readings before starting their day or to find out more about a particular issue in their lives. The whole process of tea leaf reading is steeped (pun intended) in superstition. The tea is brewed with loose leaf tea and then the tea is either poured out or drunk. The person with the question turns the cup in a counterclockwise direction three times, and then the remaining liquid is poured out.
It is a bad omen if there are lots of leaves left in the bottom, and a good omen if the leaves are evenly spread out. The leaves on the bottom of the cup indicate the distant future, the leaves on the sides of the cup indicate the not-so-distant future, and any leaves towards the top indicate the immediate future.
Photo credits: matsuyuki, Michael Cornelius, and Jason Rogers.