What's Your Cup of Tea?

life by the cup
life by the cup

Written by Marisol Dahl

A daily dose of love and inspiration can be transformative. 

Love and warmth—that’s what I felt after reading Zhena Muzyka’s Life By The Cup. Just as Sri Lankan tea farmers gently pluck only the best of the tea leaves and buds, Zhena chose her words with great care and esteem. With each chapter she invites you in with a warm cup of tea at hand and confides in you her deeply personal story of struggle and success.

In her early twenties, Zhena was jobless, broke, and unsure of her next step forward. Her baby boy Sage was born with a life-threatening condition, and for years to come they would be in and out of the hospital for dozens of tests, check-ups and operations.

Through these years of hardship, Zhena still managed to achieve her dream of starting a tea business. Without any money or assets to her name, she sat down one day and wrote up a business plan, the very beginnings of what is now the multi-million dollar Zhena’s Gypsy Tea.

At the grand opening of her tea shop, Zhena had six dollars in her bank account and her only customers were her sympathetic landlords. She came back the next day vowing to sell more.

After finally gaining a few investors, she was asked to cut costs and use conventional, non-organic and artificial ingredients. Zhena took a great risk in saying no, that she would stand by her commitment to fair trade practices and natural ingredients. She lost her investors and struggled to sell this premium-priced tea, but she came out with a renewed mission and passion.

Zhena’s story is one of perseverance and heart. But her story doesn’t have to be extraordinary or one-in-a-million. We certainly don’t have to sing the praises of the “little tea company that could” and then return to our own uninspired, half-fulfilled lives.

Perseverance isn’t a super power, it’s a human habit. Sure, it may be tough to keep going, especially after a long day, rejection after rejection, and stifling limitations. It may seem as if your reserves of perseverance and strength have finally run out.

But this is when you need to whip out your secret weapon, the thing that will restore your reserves and keep you chugging along. No one ever said you need to persevere alone—a little help and inspiration can be enough to get you back on your feet.

For Zhena, it was a teacup brimming with exotic, flavorful, revitalizing tea. This was her sanctuary, where she’d retreat after a rough day to remind herself of her mission and mull over her next move. Zhena’s teacup acts as a gentle push to reach her full potential.

I love a cup I can wrap both hands around as I raise it to my lips. A cup is a touchstone of tranquility, or warmth and nourishment. It is also a measure of capacity, for how much a cup can hold is critical for anchoring our experience. The thinness of a cup’s walls conveys the craftsmanship and mindfulness that went into its making. If you truly notice the cup you drink from, you create a meaningful ritual that infuses your tea drinking and your life.

Keep going. Find that cup of tea, a journal, an old family portrait, a hike in the woods. Take a moment to recognize the things that truly re-energize you and make a commitment to incorporate them into your daily life.

Healing the World Through Business

On September 8-12, Zhena will be hosting a virtual en*theos conference on responsible business. She is featuring 29 responsible business experts who will share their top tools, techniques and ideas on how to make a positive impact on the world no matter what industry you work in.

Get your free ticket, cozy up with a cup of tea and learn how to align your business with your goal to change the world for the better.


To enter to win a copy of Zhena Muzyka’s Life By The Cup, answer the following questions in the comments by Friday, September 12:

Comment to be entered to win: What is your comfort activity when your chips are down?

About Marisol Dahl

Marisol is currently a Sociology and Education Studies major at Yale University. A longtime New Yorker, she is interested in pursuing a career in education and child advocacy. Marisol started her blog in 2011 as a way to document her college years and beyond. When not running around campus and catching up with her school reading, she enjoys spending time with her family, reading dystopian fiction and volunteering in her community. She can be reached on Twitter at @marisoldahl.