Tea Leaf Symbols & Meanings

illustration of tea leaf symbols

If you really want to learn how to read tea leaves, you need to take the time to study and understand the various symbols that you may see in the tea cup.





The following is an alphabetized list of Tea Leaf Symbols and their meaning. Try and memorize as many as possible.


Tea leaf symbols starting with the letter A

  • ABACUS - pay close attention to finances; something's not adding up.

  • ACORN - good fortune and financial gain: at the bottom of the cup it means good health.

  • AIRPLANE - long distance journey; if falling apart there's danger of an accident

  • ALLIGATOR (CROCODILE) - irritability

  • ALBATROSS - If seen with the sign of a ship or water it forewarns of trouble for those at sea

  • ALTAR - a sacrifice is required; If with a figure nearby, sorrow and loss

  • ANCHOR -
    • upright: stability
    • upside down: instability; liable to change

  • ANGEL - protection

  • ANT - a very busy and productive phase

  • APE - warns of a secret enemy

  • APPLE - success and achievement

  • ARCH - future honor and high position; if decorated it foretells a wedding

  • ARM - in need of...
    • pointing up - in need of public assistance
    • pointing down - in need of motivation
    • pointing toward the handle - need help from family or friends
    • pointing away from the handle - providing help to others in need

  • ARROW - direction and focus
    • pointing up - good direction and focus
    • pointing down - wrong direction or lack of focus
    • near to and pointing toward handle - focus on home and family
    • near to and pointing away from handle - focus on matters outside the home and family
    • horizontal and pointing left - answer lies in the past
    • horizontal and pointing right - focus on the future

  • AXE - grievance or resentment; someone with an "axe to grind."

Symbols starting with the letter B

  • BABY - an infant or something in its infancy such as a project; see surrounding symbols for more clarification.

  • BAG - a trap; if open, escape

  • BALL - fun and games

  • BALLOON - an event, party or celebration is about to happen

  • BARREL - a drinking establishment such as a bar, pub or nightclub

  • BAT(mammal) -
    • all by itself - sickness and trouble in the home
    • combined with other signs - a prediction of death

  • BAT(club) - A love of sport

  • BEAR -
    • standing on all fours, powerful help form someone when you need it
    • standing on hind legs, confrontation with an authority figure

  • BED - recuperating from illness

  • BEE - friendship and social activity

  • BEATLE - a period of hard physical work

  • BELL - unexpected news; good if near top

  • BICYCLE - a balanced lifestyle

  • BIRDS - refer to news and messages
    • perched - delay in receiving news or message
    • flying - good news
    • flock(many) - extremely serious, important or shocking news

  • BOAT - small amount of money coming soon; also see SPEEDBOAT, FERRYBOAT and YATCH

  • BONES - a disagreement between friends

  • BOOK -
    • if open you'll learn something new
    • if closed you need to investigate something

  • BOOT(S) - warning of a speedy removal or kick out

  • BOTTLE - excessive drinking may become a problem

  • BOW - reunion after an absence or estrangement

  • BOWL - generosity

  • BOX - a gift
    • if open, a gift for a special occasion
    • if closed, a surprise gift

  • BREAD(loaf) - nutrition and diet

  • BRIDGE - An opportunity for success

  • BROOM - household chores; boring and monotonous work

  • BUFFALO - an unexpected or unusual situation creating great anxiety for all concerned

  • BUGS - see INSECTS

  • BULL - blindly rushing into a situation

  • BUSH - a promotion

  • BUTTERFLY - transformation; a major change

Symbols starting with the letter C

  • CABBAGE - jealousy; with dots means at work

  • CANDLE - help from others

  • CANOE - time spent on or near the water

  • CAP - trouble

  • CAR - a short trip

  • CAT - lies and deception

  • CHAIN - a chain of events

  • CHAIR - a guest

  • CHICKEN - domestic comfort and happiness

  • CHRISTMAS TREE - Joy and Happiness over the Christmas season

  • CHURCH - A sign of increasing wealth and comfort; you will gain much success in your life.

  • CIGAR - celebrating a favorable outcome

  • CIRCLE - success, completion; with dots means a baby

  • CLOCK - better health

  • CLOUDS - trouble; with dots means many problems

  • CLOWN - carefree lifestyle; peace of mind

  • COIN - money coming

  • COMB - personal grooming and hygiene

  • CROCODILE - see ALIGATOR

  • CROSS - suffering, sacrifice

  • CROW or RAVEN - bad news

  • CROWN - the attainment of your highest ambition

  • CUP - constructive criticism; if cracked or broken, unjustified criticism

Symbols starting with the letter D

  • DAGGER - danger from self or others; beware

  • DOG - good friend; if at bottom friend needs help

  • DOOR - opportunity
    • if open, a new opportunity presents itself
    • if closed, a lost opportunity

  • DOVE - personal message of happiness and an assurance of faithfulness in love.

  • DUCK - news or message regarding finances; if more than one duck, profitable undertakings.

Symbols starting with the letter E

  • EAR - overhearing something of great importance

  • EAGLE - overcoming barriers on the path to success

  • EGG - good omen

  • ELEPHANT - strength and endurance

  • ENVELOPE - an important letter or document is on the way

  • EYE(S) -
    • one eye - insight; clear understanding of a situation
    • two eyes - caution; look before you leap

  • EYE GLASSES - education and learning

Symbols starting with the letter F

  • FACE -
    • if an initial is nearby it indicates the identity of the person
    • if profile is looking left it means there's a need to face something from the past
    • if profile is looking right it means much worry over the future
    • if looking straight out it indicates a period of introspection

  • FAN - flirtation

  • FEATHER - lack of concentration

  • FENCE - limitations, minor setbacks, not permanent

  • FERRYBOAT - coming into a large sum of money

  • FINGER - emphasizes whatever sigh it points at

  • FIRE - at top achievement; at bottom danger of haste

  • FISH - good fortune

  • FLAG - a warning, see surrounding symbols for clarification

  • FLY - domestic annoyance

  • FLYING SAUCER (U.F.O.) - psychic ability or psychic phenomena

  • FORK - false flattery

  • FORKED LINE - decision

  • FOUR LEAF CLOVER - very lucky sign of coming good fortune

  • FRUIT - prosperity

Symbols starting with the letter G

  • GATE - opportunity, future success

  • GLASS - integrity

  • GLOW - a challenge

  • GOAT - hard work and dedication is required

  • GOOSE - news or a message regarding a prosperous financial venture or employment opportunity

  • GRAPES - happiness

  • GUN - see RIFFLE or PISTOL

Symbols starting with the letter H

  • HAMMER - home renovation and repair

  • HAND -
    • if open means friendship
    • if closed means an argument

  • HARP - love, harmony

  • HAT - improvement, especially in a new job

  • HAWK - jealousy

  • HEART - pleasure, love, trust

  • HELICOPTER - a sudden and urgent journey

  • HOOK - addiction or obsession; see surrounding symbols for more clarification

  • HORSE - if galloping means good news; if just the head means a lover

  • HORSESHOE - good luck

  • HOT-AIR BALLOON - a rise in popularity

  • HOURGLASS - an important decision must be made

  • HOUSE - a change of residence

Symbols starting with the letter I

  • ICEBERG - danger

  • INSECTS(bugs) - If unidentifiable they refer to minor problems that are easily overcome; also see ANT, BEATLE, FLY

Symbols starting with the letter J

  • JEWELS - expensive gifts

Symbols starting with the letter K

  • KANGAROO - harmony at home

  • KETTLE - entertaining guests at home

  • KITE - wishes coming true

  • KNIFE - surgery

Symbols starting with the letter L

  • LADDER - promotion, a rise in life

  • LAMP - at the top means a banquet; at the side means a secret revealed; at the bottom means postponement

  • LEAF - new life

  • LINES -
    • long straight line indicates a journey
    • long line with slight curves; a journey with minor complications
    • also see WAVY LINES

  • LION - influential friends

  • LOCK - obstacles

  • LOOP - avoid impulsive actions

Symbols starting with the letter M

  • MAN - near handle means a male visitor

  • MASK - insecurity

  • MOUNTAIN - great goals but with many difficulties

  • MOUSE - theft

  • MUSHROOM - moving to the country; near bottom means rapid growth; if reversed means frustration

Symbols starting with the letter N

  • NAIL - injustice, unfairness

  • NACKLACE -
    • if complete, admirers
    • if broken means danger of losing a lover

  • NEEDLE - a wish

Symbols starting with the letter O

  • OAK - health, long life

  • OCTOPUS - danger

  • Ostrich -
    • if standing, achievement in creative work
    • if running, you may look for startling news
    • If head buried, avoiding or ignoring communication

  • Owl - wise or prudent advice worthy of consideration

Symbols starting with the letter P

  • PALM TREE - success, honor

  • PARASOL - new lover

  • PARROT - gossip, rumours and scandal

  • PEACOCK - flaunt or display openly in public view

  • PENGUIN - interesting news regarding the northern regions.

  • PIG - greed

  • PISTOL - danger

  • PITCHFORK - deliberately stirring up trouble

  • PURSE - at top means profit; at bottom means lose

Symbols starting with the letter Q

  • QUESTION MARK - need for caution

Symbols starting with the letter R

  • RABBIT - need for bravery

  • RAKE - watch details

  • RAT - someone or something is not to be trusted

  • RIFFLE - an event resulting in great loss and misfortune

  • RING - at top means marriage or the offer of marriage; at bottom means long engagement; if broken means engagement broken off

  • ROADRUNNER - a speedy and urgent message

  • ROCKET - above and beyond expectations; very fortunate

  • ROOSTER - a wake-up call; a warning to take action concerning negative behavior

  • ROSE - popularity

Symbols starting with the letter S

  • SAW - interference

  • SCALE - legal issues; if balanced means just result; if unbalanced means unjust result

  • SCISSORS - quarrels, possibly separation

  • SEAGULL - A sign of storms; if flying, news from abroad.

  • SHARK - financial troubles; do not over-extend yourself financially

  • SHEEP - good fortune

  • SHELL - good news

  • SHIP - a voyage

  • SHOE - change for the better

  • SNAKE - wisdom gained through experience

  • SPEEDBOAT - quick and easy money via speculation

  • SPIDER - reward for work

  • SPOON - generosity

  • SQUIRREL - need to be thrifty

  • STAR - public recognition, fame

  • STROLLER - a new born baby

  • SUN - happiness, success, power

  • SWALLOW - joyful news from a loved one

  • SWAN - news of love and romance

  • SWORD - arguments

Symbols starting with the letter T

  • TABLE - social gatherings

  • TEDDY BEAR - children

  • TENT - travel

  • THIMBLE - changes at home

  • TOWER(S) - large metropolitan area

  • TREE - improvements

  • TRIANGLE -
    • if pointing upright it means a positive situation involving three people
    • if reversed it means a negative situation involving three people

  • TURTLE or TORTOISE - slow and steady progress

Symbols starting with the letter U

  • U.F.O. (flying saucer) - psychic ability or psychic phenomena

  • UMBRELLA - in need of temporary shelter
    • if open, shelter found
    • if closed, shelter denied

  • UNICORN - something lost for good

  • URN - something done in memory of the dead or a deceased loved one; see surrounding symbols for more clarification.

Symbols starting with the letter V

  • VASE - a friend needs help

  • VIOLIN - egotism

  • VOLCANO - harmful emotions

  • VULTURE - theft of mail, fraud

Symbols starting with the letter W

  • WAGON - a wedding

  • WASP - romantic problems

  • WATCH - time is of the essence

  • WATERFALL - prosperity

  • WAVY LINES - large body of water such as a lake, river or ocean

  • WEB - Internet

  • WHEEL -
    • if complete means good fortune
    • if broken means disappointment

  • WINGS - messages

  • WOLF - a false friend; someone not to be trusted

  • WOMAN - near handle means a female visitor

  • WOODPECKER - pleasant news

Symbols starting with the letter Y

  • YACHT - a raise in earnings

  • YEW TREE - the attainment of a prominent position

  • YOKE (wooden device borne across the shoulders of animals or humans) - an issue involving domination and control

Symbols starting with the letter Z

  • ZEBRA - dealing regularly with foreign countries

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