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Friday, October 14, 2011

REVIEW (by Zanna): Tea Leaf Fortune Cards


Tea Leaf Fortune Cards
by Rae Hepburn
Illustrated by Shawna Alexander
200 cards; 98-page guidebook
Published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
ISBN-13: 978-1-57281-670-1
ISBN-10: 1-57281-670-8

As a proud owner of the "original" Tea Leaf Fortune Cards (Journey Editions / 2000), I eagerly awaited the U.S. Games version of this attractive and clever deck. A few things have changed in the new version. For example, the accompanying book is a different size and has a different cover from the old. A quick look through the new book reveals a number of revisions to the text. Another difference is that the U.S. Games version includes photos and descriptions of actual tea leaf readings that were left out of the older version.

For me, much of the appeal of this deck comes from the round shape of the cards (round, like a teacup!) For my original set, I found a charming box that is absolutely perfect for them.

"Tea Leaf Fortune Cards set offers an innovative system for reading with 200 beautifully illustrated cards depicting the traditional tea leaf symbols. The 98-page guidebook explains how to divine fortunes using tea leaves or Tea Leaf Fortune Cards.
Rae Hepburn, an accomplished tea leaf reader, teaches you to unlock the ancient secrets of reading tea leaves. Follow a few simple guidelines, and you can immediately read your fortune."

The set comes in a sturdy cardboard box with a lid that lifts but doesn't come completely off. The 3-1/4 inch round cards are stacked within the larger box in two deep, square trays. The set consists of 200 cards; a 98-page, 5 x 7 inch guidebook; and an 11 x 9-1/2 inch organza bag.

The card stock is relatively thin but sturdy enough. The pattern on the back of each card features spirals and tea leaves in purple, red, or green, depending on the purpose of the card. There are 12 Months-of-the-Year cards (purple backs) and 6 Astral-House cards (green backs). The red-backed cards feature a title at the top and a key word or phrase at the bottom, for example, "FOREST" and "Muddled, unclear thinking" or "FLUTE" and "Disappointment in a friend or lover."

The accompanying book is a true treasure trove of information and sample readings. Hepburn leads with A Brief History of Tea and Tea Leaf Reading, followed by The Development of Tea Leaf Fortune Cards, Traditional Tea Leaf Reading Methods, Divining Your Fortune Using Tea Leaf Fortune Cards (The Coming Year Method, The Coming Week Method, The Astral House Pyramid Method), and Tea Leaf Symbols and Their Meanings. The final chapter is About the Author and Artist.

The Sample Readings are detailed and informative, giving a clear picture of how the reader can relate various cards to each other to gain insight. The section containing the Tea Leaf Symbols and Their Meanings contains a paragraph about each card that expands on the key word or phrase.

Shawna Alexander's realistic artwork depicts objects and experiences from everyday life. The images are small but nicely detailed. The style reminds me of children's picture book illustrations. The coloring is soft, yet rich. I am able to relate easily to the scenes on the cards.

In the near future, Tarot Notes plans to post an interview with Shawna concerning her artwork for this deck.

I have enjoyed using the Tea Leaf Fortune Cards I purchased ten years ago. The readings I did with the old deck were invariably insightful and thought-provoking, and always called attention to important aspects of the Seeker's outlook and life. U.S. Games has not only recreated the best aspects of this set but has provided extra value with its revisions and additions to the material in the book. I loved reading all about traditional tea leaf reading methods, and I think the images of actual tea leaves in the bottom of a cup are fascinating.

To read a Tarot Notes interview with Rae Hepburn, click HERE.
To read a Tarot Notes interview with Shawna Alexander, click HERE.

In accordance with the FTC Guidelines for blogging and endorsements, I hereby disclose that this deck and book set was provided by the publisher for free. Other than the occasional review copy, I receive no monetary or in-kind compensation for my reviews.  The substance of my reviews is not influenced by whether I do or do not receive a review copy.


  1. This was a great review showing us all aspects of this lovely little deck. I love you box you keep them in. Just perfect!

  2. This looks like a fascinating deck! You've piqued my interest now, and this is something I'll want to add to my "wish list" for sure. I had never heard of this deck before. Thanks so much for sharing, Zanna!

    I also love the box you found to hold the cards in. That is awesome!


  3. You're welcome, Velvet Angel. It really is an unusual and interest-piquing sort of deck! LOL

  4. I just purchased this deck, been reading oracle cards since I was 15. The moment I saw this deck I fell in love with it, the unusual methods of this set further piqued my interest. They won't arrive fast enough!


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~ Zanna