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

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

An Amazing Night!! RLTEvent.....

I arrived at Encore Liquid Lounge for my very first RLTEvent at 2:30, but I still found myself running a tad late. Some volunteers showed up two hours late and set up took longer than expected. Still, at 5:30, we were trying to get the 350 swag bags stacked against the wall in the small lobby between the elevator of Hotel Allegro and the entrance to Encore. But from the outside looking in, things were running smoothly.

People had already started to arrive when I stepped into the back to make my Diva transformation at almost 6:00 p.m. Tacky, but it would have been even more tacky leaving my team empty handed with work still needing to be done. A leader never leaves a ship when it’s time to pedal hard. By the time my makeup was done and I stepped out into the front of Encore Liquid Lounge, close to 6:30 p.m., I couldn't believe my eyes.

The room was already buzzing. My first event ever was in full swing. It was magical! The first people I saw were my friends Emme, an incredible jewelry designer, and Millie, the owner of enBeadia, a bead shop, both sponsors of RLTEvent. As I made my way, I saw old friends, Twitter followers and Facebook friends. The tables were adorned with Hot Tamales candy that my girlfriend Cathleen donated, one of my my favorites, conversation cards with HIV/AIDS statistics ready to be Facebooked and Tweeted, and condoms to be picked up.

This was not just a social event, but clearly an HIV/AIDS Awareness Event. The swag bags were stuffed with goodies, a lot of good information on HIV/AIDS and tons of condoms. In one moment, I stopped and took it in. All of it! The AIDS Quilt hanging behind the bar, the balloons, the candy table, the cakes shaped like AIDS ribbons donated by Creative Cakes by KeeKee, the homemade cakes, the big carrot cake with RLT Event on it donated by my girlfriend Audrey, the raffle table with over 80 prizes, the Encore staff wearing bright red and the crowded room that at one point became so tight you could barely move. It was all so overwhelming.

It all seemed surreal. The fact that God would still have purpose for my life is amazing to me. That He would want to use a little girl from Englewood to do work such as this is also amazing to me. In the beginning I couldn’t believe where this work was taking me, new territory that I could have never imagined. Think about it, who could have imagined Facebook and Twitter ten years ago?

The fact that I was actually hosting an event at a bar/restaurant was pretty amazing in itself; I don’t even go to bars. I don’t even drink, never have. All this new territory, social media and social media events to challenge stigma and shame, to educate about HIV/AIDS is pretty amazing. For Real! I’m a speaker and for the most part, that’s the area to which I had relegated my HIV work. Speaking has been my life and work. Honestly, I went to social media kicking and screaming one at a time: My Space, Facebook, Twitter, and my best friend Luke doing the dragging. But now I am there and growing by leaps and bounds. I’m here, and by golly, it is clearly what I am suppose to be doing.

Social Media is the craze and I have it by the tail and I will not let go. I’m meeting people where they are at, educating around HIV/AIDS in ways people can understand. My Tweet-up/Meet up was the next step. And so many came out to help me make history. THANK YOU!!!! The first ever HIV/AIDS Tweet up and my very first event was quite a success. Together we did it! Participants, sponsors and volunteers! Yes, we had a packed house but we also packed Twitter and Facebook with HIV/AIDS education.

And let’s not forget that our Master of Ceremonies, Art “Chat Daddy” Sims, was an absolute delight and a trooper with handing out raffle prizes that seemed to go on and on... I think the evening was simply amazing: packed house, the food was delicious, cake galore, and the wonderful candy table. There were plenty of drinks and great conversation and let’s not forget the best part of it all: we challenged stigma and shame around HIV/AIDS with our presence. We used the most popular tools of modern technology to educate around HIV/AIDS. That is pretty amazing... Thank you for being a part of this amazing night!

Post Script: Yes, there were a few kinks, but don’t give up on me... #IcannotdoitAlone. Y’all know that I am an overachiever so I will be looking to make the next one even better. RLTEvent2 will be a World AIDS Day Event! I’m working on the date for the first week of December, I will let you know as soon as I do... Want to join #teamRae? E-mail my executive assistant Latoya at l.renae@raelewisthornton.com. The photos were taken by Errol Dunlap Photography. To view the full album click here. More will be posted on my Facebook page from Jason E. Jones Photography soon.

 The video is coming soon.....
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