I don't quite remember when I fell in love with tea but I do remember the most special moments of me drinking tea. I was eighteen years old and I went to live with my biological mother for four months. I had just met her months earlier and it was awkward for both of us. She and her ex-husband lived a very quiet life in Boulder, Colorado. He was a professor at one of the universities and she was a housewife. After years of drug addiction and being in and out of jail, she deserved the break. I was homeless so she and her husband agreed to let me come live with them. Each evening my mother and I would find a spot in the living room with a cup of tea and a book.

Now, years later, I'm a self proclaimed tea expert. I start each day with a wonderful English Breakfast tea to get me going. As the day progresses, who knows what wonderful tea I will crown queen. But for sure, I have at least three cups of tea a day. And yes, when I can, I have tea everyday at about 3:00 P. M. I love to invite my friends over for tea and cupcakes and so far everyone thinks it’s a delightful experience. I am always in search of the best blend of tea. Yes, I’m a tea snob, I prefer loose tea but I do like some bags also. I have learned not to judge a book by it’s cover. Some bags can be quite nice. And yes again, any Diva knows, what you drink your tea out of is very important.

Tea for me is a way of life. It's wellness for the mind body and spirit. Here, I will explore every expect of tea possible, with a high concentration on wellness. I will review the best teas, the best places to have tea, the best ways to brew tea, the best tea accessories, what tea goes best with what foods, and the list goes on and on. I plan to share my passion for tea with you. And I've been told, nothing I do is ever boring so be prepared to go on this tea journey with me.

RLT Collection Tea Ball Frosted Clear Beads!

Mint Medley by The Persimmon Tree Tea Company

About This Tea:

Until recently I had never drank Peppermint Tea made with loose leaves. And Honestly, I will probably never go back. The freshness of loose Peppermint Tea cannot be denied. When I open the can of Mint Medley, From The Persimmon Tree Tea Company, I feel as if I stepped into a garden of peppermint leaves. It is a perfect blend of organic peppermint and spearmint leaves grown in the US.

Mint Medley has become a favorite and I find myself reaching for this tea tin almost everyday. It is great for on-going nausea. The health benefits and endless. It relieves muscle aches, headaches, migraines, stress. And now that it feels like someone is sitting on my chest and I have a mean cough, I'm sure it will help to relieve some of this congestion in my chest. Mint Medley has been in my tea cup more than any tea as of late. It has really helped with my winter cough, congestion related to this bout of pneumonia. You can read my full review on The Persimmon Tree Tea Company Mint Teas.

RLT Collection AIDS Awareness Tea Ball!

Welcome to my world of books! As an pre-teen books changed my world. I fell in love with the writers of the Harlem Renaissance period and the more I read the more I wanted to read. The fiction of this period was powerful and empowering all at the same time. It spoke to my own degradation and gave me hope for a better tomorrow. It gave me purpose for my own life and the courage to fight the good fight and never surrender.

I love to read! Inside a book I escape into someone else's life. There is something wonderful about turning to the next page of a wonderful story. Something intoxicating about the smell of the book and the story it brings to life. Reading brings me joy, and these days with my health in the balance, I find solace in my books.

I spent hours in my bedroom sequestered with the door closed reading the classics from the Harlem Renaissance, Hughes, Larsen, Hurston, Wright and Baldwin. Books became my escape and my salvation. The fiction of this period was powerful and empowering all at the same time. It gave me purpose for my own life and the courage to fight the good fight and never surrender.

Reading is the one thing that the pain of my life could never take away from me. It was the thing that helped to make it better. And even today, living with AIDS, books continue to be the safest place for me. It’s the one thing that belongs to me that AIDS cannot take away from me.The RLTReads book club will be books that I choose. It’s me sharing a part of me with you that has nothing to do with AIDS. It’s actually in spite of AIDS.

The RLTReads book club will be books that I choose. It’s me sharing a part of me with you that has nothing to do with AIDS. It’s actually in spite of AIDS. I have read hundreds of books from many different genres and I will pick the best of my reads over the years. I warn you, it will not be exclusively white or black, male or female, fiction or non fiction, it will be all of them.

I’m so excited and I’m grateful to everyone who wants to be a part of this venture. We already have 110 Book Club Members. You can email me @ RLTReads@raelewisthornton.com. The Twitter hashtag is #RLTReads. We can make this book club as wonderful as we want to make it. Who says that Oprah has to have the only ownership to a wonderful book club?

This Month We are Reading In My Fathers House by E Lynn Harris

Read along and join our discussion July 19th at 7 pm CST

For more Tea with Rae "Vlogs" Click here to visit her youtube channel

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Not what I wanted to do... What I had to do

I get asked often, "What made me want to talk about my life?" The truth of the matter is that you couldn't  have paid me to believe that this would be my life. If Jesus had come down from heaven and showed me this future, I would've said, "For Real? For Real?" After living with HIV in secret for seven years, this was not my first choice. Actually, it wasn't my choice at all.  It was something I had to do, in spite of what I wanted to do. The first time I was asked to speak, it was for Bowen High School in Chicago. I told Ms. Johnson flat out "NO!"  but she was not taking no for an answer.

 I remember that first day at Bowen like it was yesterday. I didn't consider myself a public speaker. Yes, I was active in politics but I was a behind the scenes organizer. So that day I was a nervous wreck. But it went smoother than I thought it would. I spoke to the first group of students, the bell rang and another group came in. The students seemed to like me and they had a lot of questions, especially about my dating life. So I figured that if  being honest meant that they wouldn't end up with HIV, then what the heck. I thought it was going really well and then, about the third workshop, I noticed that some students hadn't left the room. They were hanging around between sessions and took a seat when I started speaking again. I thought that was odd so I asked Ms. Johnson why they were making students stay. She looked me in the face and said, "Child, these kids are skipping class to here you speak." HUH???

I went home and thought about it.  I couldn't imagine that what I was saying was so important that students would ditch class to hear. The next day when I walked in the room, students were lined against the walls and sitting in the aisles. Those who had come the day before just flat out skipped calss to hear me again. It was incredibly overwhelming. At the end of the day, a young girl came up to me and said, "Ms. Lewis, I know you said you weren't a public speaker, but you shouldn't stop because the Lord is using you." Y'all know I hugged that baby and said, "Thank you." But under my breath, I said, "Now what the heck she know about the Lord using somebody." And went on about my way. But I couldn't shake it. I thought about those kids day and night. I just couldn't shake it!

And one morning two weeks later, it hit me like a ton of bricks: This is what God wants from me. That day I quit my well-paying job working on a mayoral campaign with no other speaking engagements arranged and no brochure. And the rest is history!

Recently, I asked on  my Facebook  fan page,  "When was the first time you heard me speak?"  Here are some of the uncut and uncensored responses:

Angela Gatherings: I must say I prayed & and  I cried the same night after you spoke at Hyde Park when I was a freshmen. And yes I'm in my 30's and I still remember your spirit and I've taken that with me all over the world. Thank you for stepping out on faith. You're a very powerful woman.
Stay beautiful and blessed!

 Yameka Holmes:  I remember the first time I heard you speak. I was a student at Prosser High School in Chicago. I remember you walking onto the stage and how some of the guys were whistling at you and you asked them how many of them would have sex with you. All of a sudden, when you told everyone you have AIDS, the room just went silent. It was surely a wake up call.

 Tamara Linton: First let me say that you are an inspiration to so many. You have given people a different perspective on AIDS. I remember when you came to Hyde Park to do a workshop for the students, you blew our minds. You also gave us a serious wake up call. You told us what your life was like as a child, what your life was like then, and through your blog we witness your life now. Then you stated that by the time the Class of 1997 graduated, you would be very sick or dead. Look how far you've come. I actually wrote a story about you for our high school newspaper which I still have. You are one of those people that stand out. Thank you for being courageous enough to tell your story, informing people about AIDS, and for being you!


Latahsa Jackson: I remember I was in high school this was about 15yrs ago. I went to Hyde Park Career Academy in Chicago. I remember u askin the fellas how many of them would have sex with you and every guy in there raised their hand then u said u were HIV positive and silence filled the room. To see such a beautiful person have what we all believe cant happen to ... was an eye open. Hearing u speak made me become more cautious and responsible for the decisions I make in life. Thank you for the information and education you continue to do.

Selina Rodgers:  It was my freshmen year of high school a Simeon 95'...it is kind of ironic because my niece attends there now. Anyway, I remember the room having a certain air about it when you first came in and how you kept us all at the edge of our seats with your powerful voice and the message that we would soon learn to understand. You gave us the reality of being in this world and making the right decisions so that we could become any thing that we decided to be without any limitations. 

Ryen Holm-Jeffries: u r an amazing woman when u spoke at Seton Academy (c/o 99) u took my my thought process 2 a whole other level. Thank u! U will stay in my prayers!

 Keyauna Franklin: I remember as well. It was My Freshman year at Hyde Park. I am now 30! And to this Day I Never forgot You! I can Honestly say that you had an affect on Myself and My Friends. You are Truly an Inspiration and Proof that God has the Last Say! May you continue to Inspire and Live a Long Wonderful Life!

 Jermella Ruther:  I remember hearing you speak for the first time at Lawrence Hall. I left that speech with a new outlook on HIV/AIDS. Than I had the pleasure of hearing you speak at Senn high school. Oh my god, my friends were so touched that I even knew someone so special like you. I continue to follow you after all years. Wow is all I can say.....I remember when you walked in to that room at Lawrence Hall and all the guys were checking you and joking how fine you are. Than they heard you speak and all they could do is sit there with their mouth open. I remember you saying "By the time your freshman class graduated, I will be... dead or to frail to take care of my self." Here we are 2010 and you still doing God's work. I am so happy to know someone so special and humble like you....all I have to say is Thanks.
Love always

Crystal D. Jackson:  The first time for me was at the Youth National Convention in Chicago. It had to be around 95-96. You talked about not being able to run the campaign for Jesse Jackson. There was a brother in the audience who just wasn't getting it. He talked about how he wasn't motivated and how he didn't know how your discussion applied to him. You simply ... See Moresaid, "I hope you will never have to stand in my shoes to 'get it'". I remember "getting it." This talked changed the way I viewed my close family members with AIDS and empowered me to make choices regarding my sexuality.

 Katalina Pool: I met you about 12 years ago with dr. hryram at hyde park academy in Chicago while in our aids peer education group! and i swear you were so inspirational. No I dont have aids but to hear your story was so live changing. No lie I was just wondering right before i found your page were u still living and how were u doing. Stay prayful and God will truly keep you in his grace as he has all these years.
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