When you stand among a Sri lankan tea plucker’s village and witness the poverty first hand, you realize that a cup of tea should deliver more than taste. Zhena Muzyka, founder and creator of Zhena’s Gypsy Teas located in Ojai, Calif., admits the emotional accounts of what she saw on her first trips to Sri lanka and India inspired her to create tea that should not only be tasted, but also be experienced.

What began simply as income for the once single mom 10 years ago has exploded into a national company with award-winning tea blends that stay true to the grower, the picker and the environment.

Zhena’s Gypsy Tea has proudly filtered back hundreds of thousands of dollars to fair trade communities, building clean water systems, day care centers and schools, along with supporting health care for tea workers and their families.

Green to the Core

Standing at the forefront of a new era in responsible commerce, if you name it – Zhena’s Gypsy Tea is doing it.

Certified fair trade, certified organic, 100-percent biodegradable tea sachets, 100-percent recyclable consumer tins, premium leaves and natural ingredients; Zhena’s Gypsy Tea is likely the most well- rounded cup of tea you’ll drink.

Even Zhena’s Gypsy Tea sachets are purposefully pure using non-genetically modified (non GMO) corn-silk material to envelop the tea leaves. But there’s more. The taste of the tea blends is authentic, therapeutic and sometimes completely seductive.

Given Muzyka’s certification as an aromatherapist, it’s no wonder that even before they’re infused in your cup, the scent of her tea sachets alone whisks you away. That’s because every tea blend is inspired and intentional, born of authentic experiences and rooted in the senses.

A recent trip to the tropical coast of southern India found Muzyka snacking on a common seaside treat of coconut as she wandered through the chai stalls. “Coconut is a dramatic part of the coastal cuisine in that area. It occurred to me as I was sampling chai that the flavor combination would work very well together.”

Tested back home, Muzyka created a full-flavored black tea called Coconut Chai that quickly became the company’s top-selling blend.

Other blends are gaining attention, too. The company recently earned accolades as “Real Simple” magazine’s 2010 Best Earl Grey in the nation, beating out classics like Twinings.

You’ll find only the best in Zhena’s Gypsy Tea couture tea sachets. A closer look at the blend in their Raspberry Earl and you discover freeze- dried raspberries and fine black tea leaves all blended in the sweet and natural scent of the essential oil, Bergamot.

Zhena’s Gypsy Tea tins are available in 6,000 fine grocers nationwide, but you’ll only find their luxury tea line, luxe leaves, at the hospitality level because reserving the best for restaurants, Muzyka says, allows owners and operators to provide customers a premium tea-drinking experience they can’t get at home.

“We are a flavor forward, sustainable tea and our commitment to the environment helps restaurants with their green initiatives, too,” says Muzyka who doles out tea-infused recipes for lattes, crème brulé and specialty drinks for restaurant chefs looking to generate added business by building on the flavor profiles Zhena’s Gypsy Tea has perfected.

It made a difference when Zhena’s Gypsy Tea and Jordano’s Foods discovered one another. Muzyka is a brilliant entrepreneur and one of the front runners of the organic marketplace, but she confesses she needed help understanding the food service industry.

“What we like about Jordano’s is that they are family owned and local, just like us. But more than that, we’ve had a great experience with them as a partner – we don’t just sell to them, we are in partnership, so in tandem they have done a lot to educate me in food service,” she says.

Zhena’s has proudly made tea blends for some of the greatest chefs in the world, but Muzyka says she didn’t know a thing about packaging until she partnered with Jordano’s.

“They have elevated us to reach our local market place in a much more efficient way and that’s a recipe for a long-term partnership,” she says knowing Zhena’s Gypsy Tea is in it for the long haul because the goal is to end poverty for the tea workers while providing an exceptional tea blend.

And Muzyka is sticking with it, no matter how many cups of tea it takes.