“[Zhena] Muzyka’s charisma leaps off the pages of this unconventional, touching, and personal guide to success” (Publishers Weekly), featuring seventeen soulful lessons and simple rituals for finding your life’s purpose, improving your relationships, and becoming healthier—all in the time it takes to drink a cup of tea.
Drawing on lessons she’s learned throughout her amazing and sometimes difficult life journey, the social entrepreneur and founder of Zhena’s Gypsy Tea shares seventeen soulful lessons to help you overcome obstacles, clarify your purpose, and bring awareness to each moment of your life. An inspiring roadmap for discovering the secrets of happiness and success for yourself at any stage in life, Life By the Cup’s message is that, no matter where you are, you can change your circumstances and live your dreams.
As a twenty-four-year-old single mom, Zhena had an infant in need of life-saving surgery and only six dollars in her wallet. She also had two other powerful motivators: hope and a passion to share her unique tea blends with the world. Combining her kitchen hobby of blending tea, her knowledge of herbs and aromatherapy, and her gypsy grandmother’s wisdom, Zhena started selling custom teas from a cart on California street corners. Now, over a decade later, her son is healthy and Zhena’s Gypsy Tea is a multimillion-dollar brand.
Zhena’s insights and gentle guidance will inspire you to increase your compassion toward others as well as yourself. You’ll also gain wisdom on how to hone your intuition, ask for help, and live out your true purpose without drastically changing the way you live. Discover your calling, bolster your courage, develop your own flavor of success, and you’ll see your own passion make a meaningful difference in the world.
If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.
—FRANK A. CLARK
December 1, 1999
As I lifted the cup of tea to my nose, inhaling the steamy, sweet scent, anticipating my first sip, I saw Kevin, the utility man, tiptoeing into the yard through the side gate like a cat burglar. Looking over the rim of my cup, through the faint waves of circling steam, I fixed my gaze on him.
He was so focused on reaching our fuse box that he didn’t see me sitting only a dozen feet away on the front porch steps, bundled up in an old red Indian blanket, warming my face in the distant morning sun.
Quietly putting the cup down on the weathered porch, I watched as he neared the back of the house. Standing as quickly as I could without setting off a symphony of creaks in the old wooden steps, I balanced my enormously pregnant belly and stepped onto the dead grass, making my way over to where Kevin was about to close off the valve with his wrench, which would leave me without precious fuel to heat my one-room cabin or cook my daily lentils, rice, and tea. I cornered him and yelled, “Hey!”
He jumped and almost dropped the tool. He looked over at me, raising his shoulders to his ears, grimacing as if he thought I would hit him. “If you do that, my baby and I will freeze to death and you’ll have to sleep at night knowing what you did!” I pointed at my nine-month pregnant belly for good measure.
He looked at me sideways. It wasn’t the first time we had met and wouldn’t be our last.
I smiled nervously, feeling bad to have scared him. “In all seriousness, Kevin, you know I am going to pay the bill, so why come out here and do this to me?” I smiled again, trying to be charming.
“It’s four months past due,” he pleaded. “You’re going to get me fired!”
“Look,” I said, “I’m about to give birth, then I can get a job. Can you just wait for a couple of weeks, tell your boss I have a scary dog or something? Anything?”
He looked at me for a few hard beats before dropping his shoulders. “You’re gonna have to do something, you know. The county has programs . . .”
I knew. I was about to have a kid and my only assets were a rusted-out, thirty-year-old car with no driver’s window and perpetually less than ten bucks in my bank account. How does one go about “doing something” when there is so much surviving to do?
“People don’t hire pregnant ladies, you know,” I told him, squinting back my tears.
He shook his head and stomped back up the driveway and onto the worn-out canyon road, thankfully without cutting off our power.
Somewhere along the line, God and I had gotten our wires crossed. I blamed my impulsive nature and sometimes believed that my destiny had come and gone already. I felt like I had missed my boat. I was a broke, pregnant twenty-four-year-old college dropout, fending off a kindly utility man.
I headed back to the front porch feeling seasick. To steady myself, I grabbed my anchor, that simple cup of tea.
I had been an honors student, a full scholarship recipient, a girl with so much “promise.” Then I followed one too many yearnings in my Gypsy blood and took off. I dropped out of college, headed to Peru, studied herbal medicine, got married and divorced, all the while earning my keep by making healing herbal concoctions and reading palms like my Roma Gypsy family in the Ukraine once had.
This hadn’t been my plan, having a baby on my own at twenty-four. I was heartbroken over the circumstance. I must have sat there for a long time, because when I took another sip of tea, it was ice-cold.
I begged out loud, “God, you have to help me here! Tell me what to do!” Silence.
After a few beats, the odd answer that entered my mind as I looked out at the mountains was two mismatched words, “Gypsy . . .” and then “tea.”
“Seriously!?” I yelled, looking into my teacup as if God presided in there.
I thought my mind was playing tricks on me. After all, I was a Gypsy girl drinking tea, so the idea had to have come from my desperate mind, not from the Almighty. But the idea of taking my heritage, my deep love of botanicals, and my passion for crafting healing gifts became more than just a momentary impulse. It became motivation to build something beautiful that mattered in the world.
Sage, my beautiful baby boy, was born with a life-threatening kidney defect, and we spent weeks in hospital waiting rooms and surgery centers. In between prayers and tears, I’d close my eyes to escape the fear of potentially losing my precious child. My mind conjured visions of children laughing as their moms sipped from colorful teacups and other women danced around them in brightly hued costumes. Beautiful Gypsy women proudly displayed their art, handmade jewelry, and palm-reading wisdom with kind smiles across their faces. There were cups of tea everywhere, filled with potions that I had blended from inspirations of famous perfumes I loved—floral flavors made for spiritual healing. These potions would soothe mothers’ worries, inspire love in lonely people, encourage girls’ ambitions, and calm everyone’s nerves, bringing them together in a sort of tea communion. It was all there in my mind’s seeking eye. These images of Gypsy-themed tea parties grew into hope.
A coping method, a promise, a dream—tea became all of those things to me.
Zhena Muzyka is a socially responsible business leader who founded Zhena’s Gypsy Tea in 2000 and pioneered fair trade in the industry. An inspirational speaker, meditation teacher, and podcast host, she is celebrated for her work in sustainable business practices. Zhena was named one of Coco Eco’s “20 Most Inspiring Women,” Country Living Women Entrepreneur Honoree, and has received the Enterprising Women of the Year Award and the Socially Responsible Business Award, among others. Zhena lives in California and can be found at www.Zhena.TV.
Life by the Cup is as delightful and satisfying as the teas the author has created.
– Christiane Northrup, M.D., author of Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom and The Wisdom of Menopause
"In Zhena Muzyka’s soulful new book the satisfactions of a handcrafted life come steeped in service to others. There is a world out there that needs tending to, and Life by the Cup gently shows us a way."
– Barnet Bain, Producer of What Dreams May Come and The Celestine Prophecy
"Zhena's new book opens a delicious world where expansion and fulfillment can occur one cup at a time. She shows you how caring for your deep self fuels your deepest success in all aspects of your life. Whether you are a mother, entrepreneur, or are simply passionate about expressing your creative self most fully, Life By the Cup serves delectable sips of magic."
– Kathlyn Hendricks, co-author of Conscious Loving
"Recipes for overcoming adversity swirl through these pages like the inspiriting ingredients in Zhena's tea concoctions. I sipped from her book every night at bedtime, and invariably solutions for my own life steeped in my dreams."
– Terri Jentz, author of Strange Piece of Paradise
"I love this book! Zhena's journey and the lessons she shares in Life by the Cup will inspire and empower women to start businesses that matter and can change the world."
– Cynthia Kersey, Chief Humanitarian Officer of Unstoppable Foundation
"It's rare to encounter a book that's powerful, useful AND fun to read, but that's just what Zhena has brought to the world. Read it and get inspired, to build your business and to live a life of passionate engagement."
– Gay Hendricks, author of Conscious Loving and The Big Leap
"Life by the Cup is a true story that stretches from single motherhood and hard times through unique personal success. Pour a cup of tea, open to the first page and find a friend who will teach you: Your hopes are a form of planning."
– Gloria Steinem
"It wasn’t enough for Zhena to create one of the hottest brands in the tea industry. She did it by forging a soulful, life-changing partnership with tea farmers halfway around the world. And now, through this remarkable book, she’s given us all a seat next to her on this magical journey. Zhena reminds us that we each can make a difference in the world through something as simple and delicious as a cup of tea."
– Paul Rice, President and CEO of Fair Trade USA
"This is a book with heart. Zhena Muzyka has poured herself into it, so that you can stop, sip, and enjoy not only a cup of tea but a cup of life."
– Byron Katie
“Life By the Cup is a world-changing, unique, and beautifully written book that will benefit every aspect of the reader's life. Zhena Muzyka reflects on her complex and inspirational life by artfully weaving savory tea antidotes, unforgettable personal stories, and her savvy business prowess. I laughed, sobbed, and was inspired to make the world a better place while reading Life By the Cup over many delicious cups of tea. Muzyka inspires readers to create more meaningful rituals in their daily lives and to become the most deeply joyful, fearless, and empowered version of themselves.”
– Erin Cox, Enlightened Business Strategist and bestselling author of One Hot Mama: The Guide to Getting Your Mind and Body Back After Baby
"Life by the Cup is a delicious and engaging book that will inspire and guide you. It offers a powerful roadmap for success in life, work and love. Within the pages are many gems that ensure you have the tools to live your dreams.”
– Marci Shimoff
"This sensuous read captures the romance and pleasure of tea. Who could resist?"