A Cup of Zen is a series that began on the blog September 2014. The following is The Cup of Life’s sixth post for the series featuring Amy Taylor from The Art of Tea and Tasseomancy. She’s a Tea Enthusiast, Tea Program/Workshop Facilitator, and Tea Leaf Reader for over 25 years. Sole proprietor of The Art of Tea and Tasseomancy.
I think that I have always been fascinated by all things tea. As an adopted child (I knew from an early age), who grew up in a great family environment with lots of love where I was encouraged to be creative, to try out everything and to question everything. I think that the fascination with tea things started when I was a little girl in kindergarten.
You see, my Mom was an interior decorator/designer, we had all kinds of antiques and art pieces in our home. More than anything I remember the Chinese pieces (which was very much in fashion back then) we had in our living room, a show room of sorts. The things I was most attracted to were the small things; a jade cigarette humidor, jade incense jar and I remember distinctly these two beautiful tiny teapots. One teapot has a simple salt glaze with green vine and white flowers and the other more ornate, with cranes in flight. I still have the salt glaze one in my collection (circled in the photo), the other is long gone.
My Mom would take me on trips to Chinatown in downtown Toronto. We would walk the shops looking for interesting sculptures, standing screens, paintings, knick knacks and the like. For me it was the beautiful Gongfucha tea sets and Gaiwans, beautiful tea sets in baskets and the pretty porcelain figurines of animals. I tried my first tea with my Mom in a Chinese restaurant back then; that was my first cuppa, a good cup of Chinese green tea in a chawan cup poured from a simple white porcelain teapot. I have loved tea, all tea, ever since!
Later in my teens a high school friend’s parents gave me this beautiful pastel pink Aynsley teacup and saucer set. I had that set for over 30 years, until last year, where it got a fatal crack through it. It is not with me anymore as I’m afraid it didn’t survive its injury. It’s okay though, I have well over 100 others to take its place!
A few years later, while having dinner with my family in our favourite Chinese restaurant, was when I first became curious about Tasseomancy (tea leaf reading). I didn’t know what I was doing that night, but I saw things in the cups of all my family members. After much research and through several interesting experiences, trial and error and sheer determination I discovered that I was onto something! I moved out to California for a few years, honing my skills and when I came back in the early 90’s I began to read leaves professionally, but on a part time basis as I was still trying to make a career work.
In 2000 I began to teach people about the Art of Tasseomancy. I did this as I realised that the Art may not be passed down much anymore, it certainly wasn’t passed to me in the traditional sense, and this year (2015) will be my 15th year teaching the Art to others. Not long after, I began teaching about tea; all aspects of tea, tea culture, tea health, tea types, tea wares etc. . . . I have since developed several tea programs that I am able to present to the public. Working with tea as long as I have (such a valuable tool in my line of work), you kind of have to learn about it, or at least that’s how it has been for me. It’s a passion!
In 2007 my husband and I bought a house in Hamilton, Ont. That year was momentous for me as I was also reunited with my biological Mum, a wonderful and life changing experience; we have become very close and are a huge part of each other’s lives ever since. Really, couldn’t live without her now. It was through Mum that I discovered that my great grandmother was also a tea reader back in Leeds, UK. This was the ultimate confirmation of my path forward with the Art and a huge puzzle piece about my life put into place for me.
So, it was in 2009 that my business, The Art of Tea and Tasseomancy was finally born where I started teaching more often about tea, the Art of Tasseomancy and have been reading the leaves for many people at private parties, events and businesses on a regular basis, and since 2011 it’s my full time job. Funny really, it only took me 27 years to realise that this is what I was meant to do!
There have been many accolades and rewards in my work over the years, but I would have to say that for me . . . well I suppose every day for me, is my Tea Moment.