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, June 16, 2010

Are you Kidding Me? More Questions: HIV, Sex and Dating

Here we go again. Remember the friend of a friend who felt that I was not being forthright about my dating life before I discovered that I was HIV positive? Remember she says, “My point is there are still major gaps in what she chooses to disclose and reflect on.” I told her to bring on the questions and I’d answer them as best as I can. While I felt some of the questions were none of her business, I also felt as if I had to do this. I choose to make my life public and I see this as a teaching moment. Some of the questions have already been addressed publicly, but she has never heard me speak and I realize that there may be more of my readers in her shoes. So here ya go... More questions and answers...

How did she determined who infected her? When I learned that I was HIV positive, I was shocked. We didn't know much about HIV back then and I was referred to the National Institutes of Health for a study on HIV. Based upon everything they knew back then, the doctors had a list of standard questions to help you determine the source of your infection. They were: 1) Have you ever used intravenous drugs? No, in fact, I have been both drug and alcohol free my entire life... For Real; 2) Have you ever had a blood transfusion or used blood products? No; 3) Have you ever been tattooed? No; 4) Have you traveled to Africa in the last six months to a year? No; 5) Have you had sex with a man who was gay or bisexual? No, not to my knowledge; 6) Have you had sex with someone who currently lives in Africa or has traveled to Africa? Yes, was the answer to that question. I had been intimate with an incredible man from Guinea Bissau. We met abroad and spent time together whenever he visited the United States. After monthly letters for years, we had lost contact. So for a while, I believed him to be the source of my infection. I started to believe that maybe he had stopped writing because maybe he was very ill or dead.

Then a few years after my diagnosis I had a partner die from complications related to AIDS. A light went off in my head. I was devastated to learn this fact. The time line seemed right. WOW! I had learned by chance the source of my infection. And believe me when I tell you, he was not on my short list of possibilities. (As I indicated earlier in this series, I will disclose his name only in my memoir). As of today, I have not had another partner die from complications related to AIDS. The African brother, in doing research for my memoir, I discovered was alive and doing well. In fact Guinea Bissau has a low HIV infection rate compared to some other African countries.  

How many people had she been with between being infected and finding out---Did she have to contact anyone after the fact? I was blown away by this freaking question. I mean damn why does she want to know how many men I have had sex with? What's the fucking point? To determine whether or not I was a hoe?
A legitimate question could have been: Do you think you infected anyone between the time you were actually infected to the time you learned you were infected? Why is the number so important to her? I have asked myself over and over. It seems to me, if you've been following the series, the questions that she asks are loaded.  She seems to think that I am hiding something. Or that I’m not the person I claim to be. Well, I am who I am. A strong black woman who has tackled HIV/AIDS head on! There is no trick to it. I made a choice to have sex and it left me with HIV. I've taken ownership of my culpability in my HIV infection. I wake to that demon every single morning!

But I will tackle this: I believe that I was infected in 1983, I donated blood in the spring of 1986, that donation determined my HIV status. So there was a three year window from the time I was infected to the time that I discovered my infection. When I first learned of my HIV status, I actually called ex-boyfriends. But generally speaking, I couldn't imagine anyone that I had been intimate with being HIV infected. Most everybody believed at that time that this disease was limited to white, gay men and IV drug users. I dated what I believed to be the cream of the crop. Nowhere in my wildest imagination would I think that someone I would be intimate with could have HIV. But I called most everyone I could locate. No one admitted that they were infected with HIV. That is a fact that still remains to this day. I have had only one partner that I know of to have HIV and he died years ago. This means I have pinpointed the source of my HIV infection and it confirms that I have not infected any one.
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