This week leading up to Halloween, we interviewed several notable creatives to get in the spirit. We leave Europe to go this time to Canada where Amy Taylor, magician of tea, of The Art of Tea and Tasseomancy and Mystic Tearoom delivers to us the hidden secrets of leaves and flavors. A tasty and enchanting journey that tells us more about the thousand and one treasure of our favorite magic beverage.
“Autumn makes me feel alive, and when we look at this time of year, it also allows me to reflect on what is and isn’t important. I look forward to what this spooky season has in store. This past year has had many challenges, but I feel they have made me stronger and make me more aware of what really is important. Going into the dark half of the year, I am grateful to still be able to do what I love. That’s making beautiful tea, for beautiful people, while helping them have some insight and direction for their paths ahead.” – Amy Taylor
Photos by Amy and Mike Taylor.
How are you today Amy? What state of mind are you in?
Amy Taylor : I’m doing really well, thank you for asking! I would say that my state of mind today is one of gratitude and of thankfulness. I try to begin each day, and each week reflecting on the good that I was able to help facilitate, as well as for the good will of others that I experienced over the last week. Things like people being kind and patient to others, while waiting in line to go into a shop, or someone holding the door open for another who has their hands full. Of course, I am also always grateful for the tea that I drink and for the help of all the people who cared for the tea plants, harvested and processed the leaves so we all can drink this elixir of the Leaf.
Starting a day with some tea is so enchanting…
AT : I find that starting my day with a gratitude ritual helps me see the good in the world around me. I also try to spend some quality quiet time in my gardens every morning, with my morning tea, to connect with nature and to ground myself for the day to come. It’s very helpful, especially so during especially so when we were in the height of lockdowns during this pandemic.
Can you introduce yourself to people who don’t know you?
AT : Sure! Hello, my name is Amy Lou Taylor. I am a Tasseomancer (Tea Leaf Reader), Cartomancer (Card Reader), Tea Witch, Tea Sommelier, and Tea Blender and Educator. I have been practicing my Art for over 30 years. I own a unique tea business that focuses on all things Tea and Tea Leaf Reading Related in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada called The Art of Tea and Tasseomancy’s Mystic Tearoom. I also am a Pagan, a Hedgewitch, a Horticulturist, and Community Herbalist. In my spare time I garden sustainably and organically. I also run an organic community garden here in Hamilton which focuses on food sustainability, earth stewardship and equality for all. I am married and my husband and I are owned by three quirky cats.
What tea do you recommend for Halloween? What flavor have you recently discovered that particularly impressed you?
AT : Well, for Halloween I think the best tea is an Indian Chai or my Charmed Chai! Those warming spices mixed with hot milk, black tea and a bit of honey or sugar would warm any soul during the spooky season! My current favorite tea is my Black Rose blend, it’s only two ingredients but oh so delicious!! I would have to say that the one tea that is impressing me right now is a gorgeous herbal tisane from Korea called Mistletoe. It’s amazing, and how can you not love something that tastes like roasted sweet potatoes!! SO GOOD!! Also, with no caffeine, you literally can drink it all day long!
How do you recognize specific tea leaves?
AT : Well, when you watch tea leaves unfurl in hot water, you learn a lot about tea. For example, you are brewing an oolong that has been tightly packed into a small pellet like ball. But, after the leaves have unfurled in hot near boiling water, they are sometimes 10cm or more long! Black teas also have rather large leaves once brewed as does green and white tea. For tea readings, I prefer to use smaller leaves, like those from rooibos, a tisane from South Africa. I find the smaller leaves give a better spread in a cup and that the combination of leaves and whitespace, make it easier to see shapes and patterns in cups. Larger leaves will make their own shapes, which some readers also like.
What are the most important tea leaves to know and which are recurrent in your preparations?
AT : For the purpose of tea leaf reading, there are a LOT of different symbols as well as many differing definitions for a symbol. For example, seeing an Anchor ⚓️ in a cup could mean that this person is feeling anchored, secure and happy in their life. Or, it could mean that they are being weighed down by something, usually emotional. Another symbol with more than one meaning is a dog ?. When seen in a cup a dog can obviously mean a companion, but it also can mean safety, security, loyalty, it also could mean that this person is working too hard, “working like a dog”. So, you see, the symbolism in tea reading is largely interpreted with intuition, more than a rigid definition system.
You also announced a while ago that you were writing a book on the mystical side of tea. Is it still in process?
AT : Yes, it’s true, I am in the process of writing that book, in fact, I have been writing it for a ridiculously long time, over 20 years. Back in 2019, I had hoped to have the book on the mystic side of tea completed by this year, but the pandemic stoped me in my tracks last year and I haven’t been able to get back to it. Through my putting all my information and written bits and bobs together, I realized that the one book would be best as two. So there will be a second book released at some point focusing on the history of Tea Leaf Reading focussing on then items I have collected in my Tasseomancy Museum which includes over 160 different items.
As for the Mystical Side of Tea book… well, here’s an excerpt to give you and idea of what I am writing about:
“For some reason, tea has become so mainstream that people have overlooked its greatness. We imbibe of the beverage, and don’t focus on it. We gain benefits from it, yet don’t revel in it. To so many, it’s just a hot drink.
Tea is so much more than that! How can the average human drink this elixir of the leaf and not somehow, be transfixed by it? How can humans fight for centuries over this ancient plant and now just see it as… Hot leaf juice…
I endeavor to change that perspective. So, if you don mind, I am going to tell you a story. The story of a plant, a magical plant, a mystical leaf, and liquid that has been as valuable as gold. How this beverage has connected us on a mystical level and made us all, lovers of the Leaf, lovers of tea the world over, even though many of you have never even noticed the connection of the leaf and mysticism.
Part of what I am about to share is partially my initiation into this hugely complex and beautiful world of tea, and the connections that I have found in my strangely woven path of the Leaf.”
Impressive! You are quite a mystic yourself, aren’t you? I think I heard you like tarot as well.
AT : While I do like Tarot, I prefer my Lenormand Tea Cards! I have several tarot decks, some new and some decks almost as old as me. For my clients I use the Lenomand Tea Cards that I purchased about 5 years ago now. The deck was designed by Paris Debono in Australia who allows me to print the deck on demand.
I have created my own method for reading the cards, which works really well for my clients. I utilize the cards as though they have 4 different layers, which allows me to provide more insight and information to my clients.
On your social networks, we have the opportunity to see your cup and mug collections. You have some wonderful ones that are perfect for Halloween. What are your favorite brands of spooky cups and mugs?
AT: Any mugs you can find from Alchemy England are amazingly witchy! But my favorite mug is my red mug that says TEA on one side and THE on the other. I bought it several years ago in Quebec. I also really love my big Rae Dunn BLESSED mug, as well as my “love cats” locally made mug and my Let That Sh*t Go mug that was a gift from some good friends a few years back.
And, you also have some in your museum…
AT : In my museum, I have over 50 cups and saucers representing the marked, or Tasseography cups. If I have to choose a couple favorites, then I have to say that first and foremost, the NELROS Cup of Fortune, of which I have 6 sets, all slightly different, most from when Aynsley took over the patent. Those cups are spanning the timeline from 1904 to up current day, with the reprint of the NELROS set by Aynsley released only in Japan in 2018.
Precious pieces then!
AT : I also have a black version of the Petersyn Cup of Fortune. This cup set is perfect for the spooky season as it has decals of witches that were hand applied to the outer rim of the teacup, and also to the saucer too. The inside of the cup has some classic symbols hand painted on the inside. The cup set was made in both green witches and a red witches version and the best we can tell, the first was released in the very late 1800s early 1900s.
My other faves are the Cartomancy cups that were released for the World Exhibition in 1924, and later the patent was re-issued in 1938 by companies like JG Meakin and Aynsley again. I have one that I absolutely love made by Creative Art Group out of New York, NY in the mid 1900s. And of course, I love the Paragon cups from the Signs and Omens set made in the 1930s, so beautiful!
Are you thinking of making and marketing your own spooky tea set?
AT : I have for certain considered making my own set, but at this time, it’s not something that I can focus on at the moment, but yes, perhaps in the future I can create my own set. Time will tell!
Do you have specific projects for the coming months?
AT : Yes I do! I am doing a few events over the month. I am doing a chat about the magickal tea blends I create and my processes for creating my blends on Sun Oct 3rd and on Wed Oct 13th I am giving a presentation for the WITCHfest North online event this year. Then on October 20th I am doing a presentation on Tea Reading and tour of the Tasseomancy Museum for another Tea company here in Ontario.
I also teach online, and will have more classes coming up over the late Autumn and Winter months.
And for Halloween, what will you be busy with?
AT : My husband and I always carve jack o’lanterns on the day of Halloween, set them out on the front porch of our house and a witches hat at the very least if I don’t get fully dressed up. We make a hearty dinner, usually with foods of the season, like squash, root veggies and some nice local seasonal beers. We set up a ‘dumb supper’ and light candles for our ancestors who have crossed the veil. One of my favorite things to do on Halloween is to shell-out candy for the trick or treaters, then later in the evening I do ritual and divination for the months and year to come.
Memorable and cozy moments in perspective then ! It was great to be able to share this moment with you! We hope to hear you again soon with more revelations about mystic tea.
AT : Thank you, I look forward to the next time! Happy Haunting!