Tasseomancy, or tasseography, the reading the omens/future, etc., with tea leaves, started in 17th century Europe, so it has some history. Like all kinds of divination, belief is in the beholder. It's up to you to decide how seriously you take it.
I bought this book to create a fun activity for a tea party, so I'm not real serious about it. And author Caroline Dow recognizes that possibility, when she writes: "Okay, you want to be a tea leaf reader for fun, for profit - if the laws of your state permit - or in a sincere desire to help people achieve their highest potentials. How do you start?"
As a "non-believer", who bought this book for fun, I did occasionally roll my eyes. For example, you're told to use a black tea scented with jasmine, rose or hibiscus petals for questions involving "love, romance and friendship". You can't read love in orange pekoe? To be fair, though, she does also say that she is giving recommendations and each reader finds his/her own way.
Dow also makes it clear that the client/inquirer has a big part to play in the reading, and the tea reader should observe the client closely and ask careful questions. "In tea leaf reading, you have more experience and practice reading symbols than your inquirer. That person, while new to the game, has more knowledge and experience with his or her own life."
This attitude is interesting, because usually skeptics deride a psychic who asks leading questions - I can't help but think of Professor Marvel in "The Wizard of Oz". In Dow's opinion, this is not chicanery, but the client consciously or subconsciously offering the truth to the reading.
However, I will say this, if you are genuinely interested in giving readings from tea leaves, I think this book is very thorough and accessible. It will definitely take you through the steps.
And, if, like me, you are in it for fun, it has that, too. The second part of the book is chapters on various forms you might see in the tea leaves, with their attendant meanings. So, in the chapter on Symbols, you see that an arrow refers to a message. In the chapter on Numbers and Letters, you learn that a "V" refers to sex appeal or victory (presumably not necessarily connected).
For my party, I'm going to create a kind of cheat sheet with common forms and their meanings, and everyone will have a copy. We won't have to flip through the book unless something unusual turns up, which will make it all the more fun, I think.
Nicely put together book for its purpose. I appreciate Dow's instructions on how to physically prepare the cup and tea leaves for a reading. Unfortunately, it's easy to swirl all the leaves in one big clump, or to dump all the leaves out of the cup when you turn it over, leaving nothing left to read!