When I first began studying Wicca in my high school bedroom/attached laundry room, I immediately ran into tea magic. And I felt psyched! I worked at a spice and tea store and was hired for my knowledge of teas. I had tried every flavor from green pineapple tea to caramel blueberry pie white tea, and to think that I could drink a cup as a spell...Well, it sounds too good to be true.
I’m sure that others have had a similar experience. Tea magic is everywhere from YouTube videos to blog posts to social media. That’s why I must painfully admit that it is faulty.
Looking back a few years, I don’t resent myself for writing about tea magic on Tumblr. I love tea. I love the idea of tea magic. The simple solution of (1) brew a cup, (2) stir in your intention, and (3) drink is like a life hack.
But eventually, someone told me something that made my heart fall into my stomach: How come most people drink tea and receive no magical results?
“It’s the intention,” was my kneejerk reasoning. But is it? I can’t count how many times I sat with a cup of raspberry oolong and thought, “I want this paper to be gone.” I used to brood over Irish breakfast tea and wish that I would move to a different town. Is that really different from intention? It’s the same method: brew, stir, imagine your goal. And yet nothing happened. I wasn’t actually doing anything to change the tea.
Brewing tea isn’t inherently magical because people do it all the time.
Non-witches don’t get a new job offer every time they drink a cup of Earl Grey. (If they did, they’d probably stop drinking Earl Grey.) If tea magic really works--which I believed that it does--it wouldn’t produce fantastic results through the brew-intention-drink method. And why would we practice magic if not for fantastic results?
I remember resisting this idea at first. I felt like I was being robbed of a quick, easy magical ritual. But in reality, I was on my way to learn more effective tea magic that I will now share with you.
What's Wrong With Most Other Methods
Whenever I read a blog post about tea magic, I often see the word “meditation” or “meditative” thrown around. Because that’s ultimately what their tea rituals are: meditation. You brew the tea, sit with it quietly, taste it, smell it, and let your mind rest. It’s a wonderful mindfulness practice. But is it magic?
Before I continue, I won’t discount meditation in magic. It’s an important tool to clear your mind and prepare you for rituals. It has can important place in magical ritual. But just meditating isn’t casting a spell. Meditating won’t give you a significant other or keep robbers out of your home. It just won’t.
So how does throwing tea into the mix change that?
Unless you charm it--unless you make the tea magical--it’s no different than a non-spiritual person meditating with tea. The same goes for tossing tea into a bath or adding it to a recipe.
If you benefit from meditating with tea every day, do it. I would never discourage a legitimate self-care routine that improves peoples' days. But let’s not kid ourselves, either. Meditation and mindfulness are research-backed, scientific skills. They’re not the same as magic which, by definition, cannot be scientifically explained.
Please view this post as an opportunity to enhance your current tea magic. I’m not saying “get rid of it;” I’m asking you to reconsider, to make your tea rituals more powerful and less reliant on chance.
Tea in Magical Folklore
It’s no secret that tea has been used for centuries, having first been recorded in China around 350 A.D. Since then, the lines between medicinal use and folklore have blended together. For instance, the ancient Chinese would drink tea as an antidote for poison. This is likely because tea flushes out the toxins of nicotine quickly. When people felt soothed and heightened awareness while drinking tea, they likely experienced a meditative moment or great social interaction.
I’m not discarding tea’s symbolism, though. Tea culture appears in several countries across the world and is used to pay respect or come together. For instance, in Tibet, tea-drinkers would receive barley wine as well. They would dip their finger in the wine and then flick it away three times before drinking the tea. This symbol of restraint served as an offering to Buddha, Sangha, and Dharma.
Ancient Egyptian papyri, including the Ebers papyrus, listed the medicinal uses of herbs in tea. These doctors were usually priests who believed that spirits blocked channels in the human body. They accompanied tea with rituals to heal their patients.
While examining historical accounts, I divided tea into three uses: divination, offering, and what I call "spell support." I’ll explain the last term when I get there.
You’ve probably heard about tea leaf reading before. Also called tasseography, the practice tells your fortune through wine sediments, coffee grounds, or of course, tea leaves. Tea leaf divination first appeared in Scotland and the United Kingdom after the Dutch brought tea from China.
In the Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology, J. Gordon Melton details that the diviner pours the tea without using a strainer. Whoever’s fortune needs to be told will drink the tea, but not all of it. After swirling the cup around, the diviner will read the shapes in the tea leaves. This is either done through a fortune telling cup or, traditionally, by reading the shapes from the outside in. The outer rim depicts the near future, while the middle illustrates the far future.
In my opinion, tea is one of the best drinks to use as an offering. It is highly customizable, and I’ve found that certain deities and spirits enjoy different teas. However, don’t be surprised if an entity doesn’t accept tea and prefers a glass of wine.
Still, you may choose your offering tea based on the folklore and correspondences that are associated with each. I will list all of these below.
If you want to learn how to give tea as an offering, read this blog post.
“Spell support” is a term I use to describe using tea in magic. In essence, the tea itself doesn’t do much. But when you combine it with ritual, it will produce results. Hence, the tea acts more like a spell tool than a spell within itself.
So how do you transform regular tea into magical tea that produces results? Essentially, you need to combine ingredients to make your own tea. Usually, magicians use this enchanted tea to enhance divination, spirit work, or another larger ritual.
Recipes for magical teas are the best tip I’ve seen so far. The problem is that most magical tea recipes look like this:
Notice that there are no correspondences, so you have no idea why each ingredient was chosen. There are also no instructions. From this guide, we can imagine that the magician just throws each herb in and brews it. But how is that different from the average Joe making a custom cup? How is it magical?
If we really want to create a magical tea, we need to charm each ingredient. Herbs are just herbs until you infuse them with energy; then, they combine to lend you power for your future endeavors.
Here’s how you do it. First, acquire your ingredients (a guide is below) and understand why you’re using each one. Grab a sachet or tea strainer to put the ingredients in. Before you place it in, hold it, and infuse it with energy.
There are several ways to do this. One is to chant: repeat your intention over and over, and don’t be afraid to whisper, yell, or laugh. For examples of this kind of magic, read Magic Rituals without Tools.
You may also breath quickly for ten seconds (don't hyperventilate) before releasing a long, slow, laughing breath onto the ingredient. This is called the Breath of Fire. You can learn more about breath in magic through this post.
Do this with each ingredient before steeping. As the tea steeps, continue. Talk into it. Dance around. Enter a trance state that will throw energy everywhere to fully charge the drink.
Yes, this is more complicated than just steeping a cup of tea quietly. But it should lend you better results.
As a disclaimer, this method will likely not work for bigger results such as relieving your debt, changing the weather, etc. For grand spells, you’ll need a stronger method and more energy. But this may work to increase your divination effectiveness, lend you better spirit communication, give you better luck, heal you faster--the possibilities are truly endless.
Legends And Correspondences For Different Kinds Of Tea
Luck - Faith - Strength - Clairvoyance - Protection - Energy
Chinese folklore tells many versions for the creation of black tea. Almost all stories tell of a tea farmer whose tea leaves became ripe when soldiers raided. The tea was left to oxidize longer, and the farmer decided to sell it anyway. Out of pure luck, tea drinkers and traders loved it. Read the full myth here.
Because black tea has a long oxidation period, it may be used in spells requiring patience, luck, faith, or low-working magic. Its high caffeine amount (47 mg on average, still less than coffee) makes it ideal for increased alertness for divination. With its high antioxidants, black tea protects against numerous diseases, which is why I listed it for strength and protection.
Examples: Breakfast tea, Earl Grey, Assam, Ceylon, Darjeeling, many Chais sold in the West
Healing - Clairvoyance - Divination - Happiness - Awareness - Protection - Offense
Green tea is believed to originate in Xing Yang Mao Jian, China, which is where its legend originates. According to the tale, the residents of the area fell to a strange disease. A girl sought treatment from an elderly man, who gave her a healing tree and told her to bring it back within 10 days. When the girl became too weak to travel, the spirit of the tree transformed her into a bird, and she delivered green tea to cure her people.
Green tea’s healing effects have been backed by science. According to studies, green tea lowers the risk of several diseases, including cancer, diabetes, and heart illness. It also aids neurotransmitters to help people concentrate and improve their mood. Plus, the antioxidants in green tea protect your brain and body from future diseases.
Green tea has less caffeine than black tea, except for Matcha, which has significantly more.
Examples: Matcha, Sencha, Jasmine, Gunpowder, Dragonwell, Genmaicha, Hojicha
Love - Divine Intervention - Mercy - Protection - Healing - Strength
Since oolong is partially oxidized, I often call it a mix between green and black tea. The legend of oolong teas surrounds a temple of Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy. This temple fell into disrepair, and a poor farmer noticed it everyday on his way to the fields. Despite having little resources or money, the farmer took his broom and incense to the temple and cleaned it. That night, Guanyin visited the farm in a dream and directed him to a cave. There, the farmer found an oolong tree, a treasure which he sold to his neighbors.
Oolong is clinically proven to promote tooth and bone health. It also aids the brain, heart, and skin--even relieving eczema in some studies. Don’t be surprised if oolong teas contain more caffeine than you’d expect.
Examples: Milk Oolongs, Formosa, Wulongs
Immortality - Healing - Benevolence
The legend of white tea mirrors green tea’s in some ways. In the Fuding county, near Taimu Mountain, a woman named Langu searched for a way to cure her neighbors. While taking refuge in a cave, she found a silvery tree in bloom. She made white tea from these leaves to cure the epidemic. On top of that, Langua received immortality for her kind-heartedness, and she is now looked upon as a Goddess.
Before the buds and leaves of this tree fully open, they are plucked.
White tea gets its name from the plant’s silvery-white hairs. As with many teas, white tea’s antioxidants may guard the body against diseases. As the myth predicted, studies show that white tea may prevent skin aging. It may also fight against Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, insulin resistance, and osteoporosis.
Examples: White teas come in many flavors and are usually labeled as such. If you like bold, fruity or floral teas, this kind is for you. It contains some caffeine.
Herbal tea is made from herbs and flowers which have not been fermented or oxidized. Hence, there is no one legend for this kind of tea; you’ll have to look up the folklore behind the herbs used.
Most herbal teas have no caffeine with the exception of Yerba Mate (which has an interesting history--I recommend looking it up). I will not give you correspondences, because I want to encourage you to research herbal folklore yourself.
Examples: Chamomile, Peppermint, many “Bedtime” teas, Eastern Chais, Rooibos, Hibiscus
For more legends about tea, read this amazing article!
Tea magic is far more complicated than stirring and thinking about your intent. It requires the careful research of folklore and infusing the tea with energy. This can be done through magical breath or spiritual aid. Teas are also not recommended for strong, long-time spells such as relieving debt. Remember, the more you wish to gain, the more work you’ll have to put into a spell.
What are your thoughts on tea magic? Do you agree with my assessment? Please comment below.
1/7/2020 05:34:47 pm
So I usually pass by the tumblr posts of tea magic, usually because of what you stated. That said, I couldn't have explained it before now. Thank you for articulating precisely why it always failed to, basically, jive with me. What you're saying here makes sense.
2/3/2020 10:04:50 am
I feel you, Lilith. I always scroll past tea magic posts too. And it's a shame, because this magic has potential; we just need to approach it differently. Thanks for commenting.
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8/25/2021 12:52:58 am
This was very informative. I found a lot of you ideas very interesting. I’m not very exposed to tea folklore and history but I did find that looking up tisanes rather than herbal tea will give you more legends and folklore on that type of “tea”. Tisanes is basically just another name for herbal tea.
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1/3/2023 09:11:40 pm
Would mixing different tea such as black tea and green tea interfere with each other or enhance the intention if its focus on clairvoyance for example??
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