Courtesy of Megan Zander

I Tried Reading Tea Leaves To Tell My Future & Here's What Happened

I love a good ghost story as much as the next gal, but I've never put much stock in the mystical or supernatural. I had my Tarot cards read once with pretty accurate results and attended a John Edwards reading for fun (no one from beyond the grave tried to contact me), but I've never messed with a Ouiji board or attempted to read my tea leaves.

Since my name rhymes with Regean and The Exorcist is one of the scariest movies ever made, I'll probably never be brave enough to willingly place my hands on a Ouiji board, but I am still waiting around for my Hogwarts acceptance letter. So in the meantime, I figured I might as well see if you really can learn what the future holds by looking into the bottom of your tea cup.

The Internet is an amazing place and there are tons of website offering instructions on how to read your own tea leaves and what the symbols mean, so armed with some loose tea leaves I got this Valentine's Day in lieu of chocolate ("it's the thought that counts," I told myself as I went out and bought myself Godiva) and the powers of the Internet, I decided to give it a try.

The Experiment

Every morning for a week I started my day by drinking a cup of tea and attempting to foresee my future by putting a pinch of used leaves in my almost empty cup, swirling the cup three times in my left hand, and trying to decipher meaning from my tea leaves while desperately hoping that I didn't see the Grim. Totally legit, or complete nonsense?

Here's what happened:

Day 1: The Letter J

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For my first attempt at tea leaf reading I definitely didn't put enough into the cup. Even so, I saw a distinct letter "J" at 4 o'clock in the cup, surrounded by little flecks of nothing. When I looked up letters, there wasn't an exact interpretation of what certain letters of the alphabet meant, but it said that letters "with dots around they will contain money. "

Since J is the first initial of one of my kids and the cup said money was headed my way, I thought this experiment was off to a great start. I noticed I was in a good mood this whole day, and wondered if reading my tea leaves was the reason why.

Day 2: Not The Grim, But A Giraffe

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I used chai tea today and though it's delicious, it clumps easily, making it difficult for a novice tea-leaf gazer like myself to see any symbols. I didn't see a Grim, but at 10 o'clock I spotted the neck and head of a giraffe gazing up on me. I thought it had to be a good omen, since giraffes are such cool creatures, so I was surprised to look it up and find that a giraffe means you're "apt to cause mischief through blundering and the making of incorrect statements."

Was I fishing for explanations and drawing conclusions that didn't really make sense? Or was this really working? I was surprised to find that maybe it was.

I spent the day second guessing every email I sent and wondering if any of my Facebook comments could be misinterpreted as rude or inconsiderate. Did reading my tea leaves stop me from embarrassing myself? Who knows. But taking the time to think about what I say on social media, in emails, and IRL before hitting send or opening my mouth was a good lesson in self-editing. I tend to text or post without thinking and it has caused some inadvertent hurt feelings in the past, so more than anything, the giraffe was a reminder to be mindful of the words I say and how I say them, and it turns out that I'm actually glad I saw that little dude in my tea cup.

Day 3: Chewbacca Pukes

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My twin boys were up with nightmares all night and so I woke up the following morning feeling pretty grumpy and with a sore throat. Maybe some days the fortunes are harder to decipher than others or (probably) I was just in a bad mood, but for whatever reason I had a really hard time seeing anything in my tea leaves, even though I switched to English Breakfast tea after the issues with the chai. Somewhat jokingly I finally decided that right at 12 o' clock I saw what looked like Chewbacca throwing up.

Unsurprisingly, when I looked up "Chewbacca" and "vomit" (hey, I saw what I saw, OK?) the tea leaves symbol database came back with no results, but when I searched "head," I was shocked at by the results: "A large head gives warning of family trouble or of serious illness." Sure enough, that day was the start of the worst chest infection I've ever had. If the tea leaves had to be spot on about something, couldn't it have been the kids being extra sweet instead?

At this point in the week the tea reading experiment had been mildly correct, but I was getting a little unnerved at just how spot-on the answer was on day three of my experiment. Was I fishing for explanations and drawing conclusions that didn't really make sense? Or was this really working? I was surprised to find that maybe it was.

Day 4: I See Tea People

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OK, to be honest, I think that at this point in the experiment I am getting really good at reading my own leaves. I clearly saw a person at 12 o' clock and another person sitting with bent knees facing to the left between 1 and 2. The Internet mystics told me that human figures in your tea leaves "must be judged according to what they appear to be doing." Um. OK?

Since I still felt like death warmed over and my tea leaf people seemed to be lying on their back and sitting respectively, I saw this as a message that I should spend the day doing as little as possible in hopes of feeling better. When I handed the kids the iPads with Netflix loaded, I had zero mom guilt, because honestly, kicking back and taking care of myself felt like exactly what I should be doing. I felt like garbage, and overextending myself just for the sake of doing it wasn't going to help anyone, least of all my kids. So I put my feet up and called it a day, and it was all thanks to my tea leaves.

Day 5: Tiny Dancer

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Day five greeted me with this dancing ballerina in my cup. (Yes, I know she has no legs, but that is clearly a tiara and a tutu, and ballerina seems like a safer thing to see than ghost, especially when I'm sick, so we're going with it.)

Since I already knew human figures are about what they're doing, I saw this as a sign that perhaps I'd start to feel better soon — maybe not ready to dance exactly, but close. While I didn't feel anywhere near 100 percent, day five did feel like the day when I finally started to turn a corner health-wise, so I'm giving the leaves a pass and calling them pretty accurate.

Interestingly enough, according to, dancers signal "a pleasant omen of coming pleasure and gratification, good news, happiness in love and friendship; it also means that you will receive an unexpected invitation." And you know what happened on this night, don't you? Yep, my partner offered to make dinner. Coincidence? Probably, but it's still cool.

Day 6: Kate Middleton

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Maybe it's because I was using my dainty Alice in Wonderland tea cup, but I swear I saw a woman in a fancy hat in these leaves. She's facing 3 o' clock, with her chin jutting out from beneath that glorious hat she's wearing. Since the British are know for their fantastic headgear, I decided this had to be none other than Kate Middleton in tea leaf form.

A hat stands for "success in life," and a woman stands for "pleasure and happiness," so I was sure I was in for a great day. Just in case it was the cold medicine causing me to see things, I looked up elephant too, since that hat brim kind of looked like a trunk. That brought even better news: elephant is a lucky sign, and means "good health." In fact, the kids were well behaved this day and I continued to feel better, so my tea leaves were completely on point.

Day 7: Pine Tree

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This morning I saw what was unmistakably a pine tree at 5 o' clock in my cup. I figured it had to be a good sign, since it reminded me of Christmas. Sure enough, when I looked it up I found out a pine tree means, "continuous happiness." (Was I on a roll, or was I on a roll?!) The symbol made me stop and think about things in my life, specifically how good I have it and how happy I am overall.

I'm lucky enough to have a family and a job that I love, and I was appreciative of the fact that I was regaining my health, so while some may see the meaning of a pine tree as the tea leaves' version of opening a fortune cookie and getting a totally generic fortune, for me it was spot on.

Did My Tea Leaves Tell The Future?

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I may not be Professor Trelawney, but I'd like to think my tea leaves reading skills are definitely good enough to pass my Divination N.E.W.T. I said at the start of this experiment that looking at mystical practices like tea reading was more of a form of entertainment than truth for me, but it was fun nonetheless. And I noticed more often than not that when I saw good things reflected in my cup, I actually wanted to make sure they happened to me in real life.

Seeing positive things in my tea leaves definitely gave me a more cheerful attitude during my day, and when I saw negative things in the leaves, it didn't bum me out so much as it served as a reminder to be kind to myself and to stop, slow down, and do what I needed to feel good and in control.

Although I didn't always get the chance to follow the official tea leaf reading instructions, which consist of quietly drinking my tea while reflecting on my intentions for the day, it was nice to try and grab a few moments to gather myself before jumping into yet another hectic day with two ambitious toddlers. So yeah, I'll likely keep reading my tea leaves when the mood strikes, if only to keep on the lookout for the Grim.