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, July 12, 2010

Monday Reflection: Until The Day I Die...

In just four more days I am hosting my very first Event: An Evening With Rae: Meet, Greet and Tweet. I can't believe that it has taken me 17 years to host any kind of event around HIV/AIDS using my name. I was reluctant all these years because I didn't want people to think I was using HIV/AIDS to get rich, or to build a brand or an organization.

I wanted people to know that I don't do this work for any gain of my own, but because of the pain; the pain that me and so many others live and have lived with because of HIV/AIDS.

In 1996, at the height of my popularity, one of my closest friends, Tory Johnson, died from complications related to AIDS. He was so ashamed that he never disclosed his status. Tory died just as much from the stigma and shame associated with this disease as from the physical complications. By the time he entered treatment, it was to late. I promised him on his death bed that I would knock down the freaking walls of shame and stigma as long as God gave me breath in my body. I have kept my promise! Even when I'm sick and at my lowest, I hold my head up high and keep it moving. Even when speaking engagements are few and far between and I'm trying to figure out where my next meal is coming from, I understand that this is the call on my life. I feel like Jonah, caught up in the belly of the whale. God won't let me out. This is the purpose He has for my life. I'm resolved to that fact!

I always wanted my ministry to be the focal point and I never wanted people to question my integrity around my HIV work. So almost two months ago when Jenna loosely mentioned that I should have a Tweet-up, I immediately dismissed it. She told me there are a lot of people who admire me on Twitter and Facebook who would want to just hang out with me for the night. I reluctantly agreed, but still I was hesitant. I knew that it had to be much more then just "hanging with me," cause I don't even hang out.

Then God gave me a vision and in four days the fruit of this vision will come to light. Yes, this is an old-fashioned Tweet-Up/Meet-Up where people from Twitter and Facebook come together to hang out for an evening of mixing and mingling. But it will be so much more. First, everyone who comes to this event, will be taking a stand publicly against stigma and shame around HIV/AIDS. To support a social event that has HIV/AIDS Prevention and Awareness as a theme is a milestone. Second, while we are "hanging out," HIV/AIDS education will take center stage. I am asking my supporters to do the following:

1. Tweet HIV/AIDS statistics throughout the night.

2. Those on Twitter and Facebook, I'm asking that you feed your Twitter through your Facebook for the night so that those who follow you on Facebook but not on Twitter can still be an a part of the event.

3. I'm asking all those on Twitter to ask their followers to support the event by retweeting what you Tweet and retweet.

4. I'm asking all those who cannot make the event from both Facebook and Twitter to join in the conversation. Come to my blog and sign in to chat. You will be able to sign in through Facebook, Twitter or e-mail. But it must originate from my blog site. This will be a live feed from Encore Liquid Lounge of the night's event.

The hashtags for the evening are #RLTEvent and #EncoreAllegro.
Twitter handles are @raelt and @EncoreLounge.

Social Media is the craze. More people go to Facebook then to Google. Target quadrupled their sales of a tea through Facebook and Twitter in one month. The power of Social Media is loud and clear. I want for us to take HIV/AIDS Education and Prevention to cyberspace en masse on Thursday night.

I'm proud that Hotel Allegro came on board as my primary sponsor. They are providing their wonderful Encore Liquid Lounge for the evening. In fact, they have closed their doors for us. Their commitment to HIV/AIDS prevention and education has been long-standing and the proof is in the pudding! I am asking everyone to show Encore some love on Facebook and Twitter. Companies who boldly support HIV/AIDS work deserve our support.

There will be swag bags around HIV/AIDS with lots of great information. The first 100 people will get a premium swag bag too. Maybe next time, if I prove myself to companies with the success of this event, I will have premium swag bags for everyone. Yes, I am already planning my second one in my head, #overachiever.

The Master of Ceremonies will be none other than Art "Chat Daddy" Sims. There will be a candy table provided by Sienna Rose, you can register for my AIDS Walk team, there will be limited edition Diva AIDS Awareness bracelets for purchase and the fun of the evening will be the raffle prizes. Right now I have over 70 raffle prizes. Raffle tickets are $2.00 each or three for $5.00. You may win a pretty condom case or you may win a handbag valued at $250 or dinner for two at one of the Kimpton Restaurants. Also, Encore will be providing hors d'oeuvres. But don't expect them to feed you all night.  #For Real... And, I'm still working on dessert. Keep your fingers crossed. The event is free. Whether you are in attendance or not, you are free to make a donation to help support my work around HIV/AIDS prevention.

Hope to see you there... I'm hanging all night... Attire: whatever you want to wear. I think it will be from after work to jeans to chic... Me, well, y'all know how I roll... #DivaImage #DivaApproved.

PostScript: A special thanks to Encore and all of my sponsors!

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