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, August 16, 2010

Monday Reflection: Never Could Have Made It!!

After my granddaddy died all my protection died right along with him, so I believed. But looking back over it all I know that God was my protector all along. I know this one thing for sure, without Him, I never could have made it.

My journey of pain started early. Granddaddy took me from my parents who were both heroin addicts when I was a toddler. But Grandaddy died when I was six and his wife kept me. The lady I call Mama was my grandfather’s third wife and 25 years his junior. From day one she instilled in me that nobody wanted me. She was all I had. It was all so overwhelming and seemed hopeless for my little self.

Mama drank Christian Brothers from the pantry and ruled with her mouth and the extension cord. Sometimes her mouth hurt worse than the whelps on my face and across my back. But God sent a blessing to my home one day, Grandmama Julia, Mama’s mother. She came on a mission to save her grandbaby. She declared to her daughter, “That baby needs to be in church!” After the long argument, Mama called me into the room and I was told that I was going over Grandmama’s house for the rest of the weekend, Mama looking all defeated, “You going to church with Julia,” she mumbled.

That became my ritual every Friday night, Grandmama’s house. It was a sanctuary of sorts from Mama’s understanding of what it meant to raise a child, but most important, it was a conduit to my faith. On Saturdays I'd help Grandmama with the laundry and chores. She'd cook big juicy burgers and hand cut fries topped off with fresh squeezed lemonade. At night she'd kneel with me as I said the Lord’s prayer that she had taught me. We started every Sunday with Gospel music playing on the radio then we'd make our way to the Old Ship of Zion M. B. Church. Everybody was so nice and the music just took me to another place. Church was wonderful. There was no name calling or hitting. Rev. Otis Anderson always had open arms for me. So one day when he opened the doors of the church, I marched right up there to give him my hand.

At 7 years old I had no idea what it meant to be in the Christian family but it seemed like a much better family than what I had. Church was my one safe place. I didn’t understand at the time, but it was truly my refuge. And each Sunday I gained just enough strength to go back home to Mama and endure whatever came my way.

It was the foundation of a faith and relationship with God that would sustain me through years of physical, emotional and sexual abuse. When I look back over it all, it’s amazing that I never lost my mind. Yes, today I know that I never would have made it. Even living with HIV for 27 years and AIDS for 19, I know that I never could have made it if I was the only actor in my life.

But sometimes living in the present you forget your history with God. So Wednesday after having a very difficult conversation with my doctor about my health, I was overwhelmed with sadness. There are some realities here that I must face. I have advanced AIDS. I do. There is absolutely no way around it. Years of a failing immune system and toxic medications has taken a toll.

As I was making my way back home, a sadness consumed me and all I could see was darkness. And then from nowhere, Marvin Sapp’s song, “Never Could Have Made It,” starting playing in my head. It has stayed with me all week long. I believe that it's God’s subtle way of reminding me that He’s got this. That we have history. And God’s history as the director of my life is proven. Sometimes we become so overwhelmed with the right now of our pain, we forget that God has never faltered or failed. He is as constant as the stars in the sky. So, today I am reminded of my past as a way to understand that my future is standing on a firm foundation. It is so true, I never could have made it...

Post Script: When I was 11 years old, Mama and I moved to the suburbs and I switched churches. I hadn't seen Rev. Anderson in years. Then when I did the first person news reports for CBS News in Chicago he saw me on TV and called the station. Rev. Anderson had not seen me in over 30 years, but he never forgot me.
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