I have read that the art of reading tea
leaves was probably developed thousands of years ago in China. But
it was also associated with Eastern European Gypsies, the Scots
and the Irish.
When we visited my Granny at her home Down Neck she would always
serve my parents tea. This wasn't Tetley Tea in the bag but rather
loose Tea that was brewed in a pot. The famous common saying in
an Irish home back then was "hot the pot”, which meant
make a pot of tea. Everyone always wound up with tea leaves in the
bottom of their cup. This was always a center point of conversation
because everyone would try to read a meaning into the symbols that
the leaves made.
My Granny had a friend who would periodically pay her a visit.
Her name was Maggie Rogan and I think Granny knew her from the old
sod. When ever she paid a visit the word went out. Many people on
Vincent Street would come to see her. She was a professional Tea
Leaves Reader. She worked the restaurants in Newark. She would tell
everyone’s fortune. Once she told my Uncle Luke that a man
at his work was attempting to do something to get him fired. He
worked for Gulf Oil at that time. She told him the name of the man
and also a third party who was trying to intercede on behalf of
my uncle. That following Monday my uncle addressed the problem with
Sometime in the early 1940's Maggie moved from Down Neck up to
Fairmount Avenue. And like so many other people just disappeared
in the passing of time.
I would have loved to have an opportunity to speak to her as an
adult. She had no family and I wonder if she was a Tinker. The Tinkers
were a distinct ethnic group within Ireland. They had their own
secret language called Shelta.
Not only were the leaves read in China but they were also read