In the paper, we introduce a new tree automata framework, called propositional tree automata, capturing the class of tree languages that are closed under an equational theory and Boolean operations. This framework originates in work on developing a sufficient completeness checker for specifications with rewriting modulo an equational theory. Propositional tree automata recognize regular equational tree languages. However, unlike regular equational tree automata, the class of propositional tree automata is closed under Boolean operations. This extra expressiveness does not affect the decidability of the membership problem. This paper also analyzes in detail the emptiness problem for propositional tree automata with associative theories. Though undecidable in general, we present a semi-algorithm for checking emptiness based on machine learning that we have found useful in practice.