CAPSULE REPORT: Zhena’s Gypsy Tea is a beautifully-packaged line of blended teas—black, green, white, rooibos (red) and herbal—with a floral and fruit profile. It hits the trifecta of organic, Fair Trade and biodynamic. It’s also kosher. Zhena contributes significantly to social causes, and for her good works and business success won the 2007 Enterprising Women of the Year Award from Enterprising Women Magazine. You have to admire her mission; fortunately, her tea tastes good as well. This is Page 1 of a three-page review. Click on the black links below to visit other pages.
Zhena’s Gypsy Tea celebrates the gypsy in us all—the creative free spirit, the naturalist. Social and environmental awareness are always refreshing in a company, and when it comes to Zhena’s Gypsy Tea, the refreshment doesn’t stop there. Zhena Muzyka has been studying tea since she was a teenager, but didn’t make it her livelihood until 2000. A young writer who was working on a book about her Ukrainian Gypsy grandmother, Zhena found herself in a devastating situation when she learned that, at just six-weeks-old, her son had a debilitating kidney disease. Zhena needed a way to pay the medical bills and stay home and care for her sick child. The answer was Zhena’s Gypsy Tea. The brand was named in honor of Zhena’s proud gypsy heritage, and specifically to honor her grandmother, who walked from Ukraine to Germany during World War II, eventually emigrating to America.
In Ojai, California, Zhena began with a catering cart and a spot in a friend’s antique store. With son Sage in a stroller by her side, she sold her organic tea blends. The company, begun as an outpost in a tea shop, now has accounts nationwide, and for a company with limited resources, was honored for “Outstanding Packaging” at the most recent Expo East natural products show.
As the company continues to grow and succeed, Zhena continues to incorporate social responsibility programs. She donates a portion of the proceeds from several of her teas to the non-profit organization C.E.O. Women, which helps low-income immigrant and refugee women succeed in entrepreneurship. The company supports other causes as well: anti-violence toward women and children, AIDS and kidney health research and pro-peace activism, to name a few.
She has apprenticed with a Sri Lankan tea master living in the United States, and through her work has become an accomplished “tea sommelier.” Through her actions with Fair Trade, Zhena has uplifted communities in Sri Lanka, China and India. Her karmic outlook on life and philanthropic attitude make Zhena’s Gypsy Tea’s a great buy even if they weren’t delicious—but luckily, they are.