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

Monday, April 5, 2010

What I Know For Sure...

As a Christian, yesterday should’ve been one of the happiest days of my life. In terms of Christian holidays and celebrations, Easter is at the top of the list. Remembering the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ should provide a renewed meaning that makes you want to shout all day long and bring a smile to ones face that makes you look silly. Easter is the core of our faith. If Christ hadn’t died for the forgiveness of my sins, I would be nothing! Could you imagine your life before the Cross? I could. My “sorry self” would always be looking around for a goat to sacrifice at the altar, begging for forgiveness at least 2-3 times a week. For Real… For Real...

I'm clear; I am nothing without God's grace. Yes, I should've been one happy camper yesterday. But nooooo, not me! I hate holidays! Easter is no exception. It seems that nothing comes that easy for me ever, not even happiness; never has. I don't particularly know why, but I’ve come to believe that this is the way it's supposed to be. Once, in the middle of the night in a lonely hotel room after a full day of press and speaking, I was overwhelmed with my life and the call that has come with it.

I pause here to say, ministry can sometimes be a lonely place. I remember that night, asking God for a new life. "Please God," I pleaded. But I promise you, He spoke to my spirit instantly, "This is the only life I have for you, my daughter. Your life is perfectly shaped for your purpose." That night I lay in bed, cuddled between the pillows and wept for the Rae that should’ve been but never was. Not even at birth. I have come to accept that my life is what it is. Sometimes I feel as if God took my pain and designed a pair of shoes especially for me. He knew I loved shoes, so He crafted a pair that I could wear through thick and thin and still maintain a core of my dignity, even as a child enduring the holidays at my house.

Yes, holidays were always painful. They would begin with me going to church. Mama didn't go, so I took myself. Then by the time I arrived home, Mama would have a wonderful meal prepared or we would make our way to Grandmama's to eat. Both Mama and Grandmama could cook their butts off. I’d often eat until my little stomach couldn't hold another drop. Sometimes Mama would look on and shake her head with a grin, “That girl sho can eat." I'd giggle, “Mama I love yo cookin’." Those were the pleasant moments that I prayed for, but rarely got. The script never changed. No matter how much I prayed or willed it to be, Mama would start cussing and there was no shield between me and her words. There was nothing to protect me from her wrath, whether it was her mouth, her hand, the broom or the pretty white Polaroid camera she swung at me with all her might. I never knew what I did to provoke Mama. One night balled in a corner, I asked with tears streaming down, "Mama, what did I do? I’m sorry, Mama. Please tell me, Mama. I won’t do it again.” She looked at me and walked away. I was sort of grateful for her silence that night because her words hurt worst than her swing "You fucking Bitch! You ain't shit. You ain’t never gonna be shit!” That was Mama's battle cry!

 Memories of my Mama dominate my life on holidays. Now that she's gone with no other family, I often spend them alone, torn between the loneliness I feel and the pain I felt when she was living. I'm not sure how long it’s going to take to reconcile my relationship with Mama and how I feel on holidays. What I Know For Sure, is that God proved Mama wrong. I may not be all that I could’ve been, but my life has been perfectly shaped in spite of Mama's prediction, “that I was never gonna be shit.” Even in my pain, I understand that Easter has so much meaning for me. Not only did Christ die for the forgiveness of my sins, but God reshaped my imperfect life for a perfect mission at the perfect time in our history. Now that's love!

 Post Script: Long before I belonged to Fourth Presbyterian Church, I would stop and stare at the yearly April display in front of the church on Chicago's Mag Mile. I remember the first time I saw those trees with a sea of blue ribbons. “How pretty,” I mumbled as I made my way to the sign. I stood there paralyzed in front of those trees for a long time. People would come and go but I stood there with tears streaming down as I read the number of children abused in Illinois and Cook Country. That day, I cried for all those abused children. But I also cried for the children that were never counted, me included.
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