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, November 8, 2010

Monday Reflection: Yes I'm a Colored Girl....

Growing up being violated by the men who were supposed to protect me, I learned to be both sensual and sexual and how to use it to will that power over men. I was so wounded I didn't even know that I was hurt. The blood had dried over the wound and the sore was growing and infecting the very core of me.

I know what it’s like to draw all your self worth from between your legs and for the longest time I thought that I was special. That it made me special, that men wanted me. That I could have who ever I wanted, when ever I wanted. I was one bad ass woman and I willed my badness with all my might. Then one day I realized that I was no different than other Colored Girls. A wounded girl growing up to be a wounded woman. These words resonated with me and pierced my very being.

She waz hot 
a deliberate coquette 
who never did without what she wanted and; 
she wanted to be unforgettable
she wanted to be a memory
a wound to every man arrnagnt enough to want her.

This was me, but how did she know? How did this author Ntozake Shange know my story. She had never met me, but yet it seemed that she knew me. I didn’t get to see the original play when I was a freshman with my theater company in high school. Mama wouldn't let me go. But a few years later, my girlfriend Veronica Slater had a brilliant idea to perform For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf. I was to be Lady in Yellow. I liked her character, but honestly I'm sad to say at 17 I could see a little of myself in every character in the play. Veronica and I rehearsed and rehearsed. It was easy to learn, because their story was my story.

People ask me often where I draw my strength and I say honestly that it didn't start with HIV. It started as a child vulnerable and unprotected. But along the way God made small deposits that seemed so insignificant, but looking back they were the catalyst to get me through. For Colored Girls was one of those small deposits and in many ways so was Veronica and her mother. The time spent at Veronica’s rehearsing was time away from the abuse my mother willed with all her might.

Colored Girls meant so much to me. It was my story. Yes I had come to realize through this poem that I was a Colored Girl. I purchased the album and I would lay in bed at night and play it over and over and over again and it gave me life. Not only did it validate my story, but it gave me hope that there was light at the end of my dark tunnel. That I was more than I thought. I was in fact a valuable child of God. That no man would love me or could love me like me. I started to understand that I had to go within and find her to save her. Doing so put me on a course that ultimately saved my life. I found God within, but it took me years to love her fiercely. Because of that, I got HIV along the way. But homeless my senior year of high school, in love with a man ten years older than me, I could have ended up in a gutter that I couldn't crawl out of. Yes, Colored Girls even gave me the courage to walk away from that man, my first love. I remember telling him one day, like in Colored Girls, “You were always inconsistent doing something and then being sorry.” Then I added, “I’m sorry. But I’m sick of you being sorry,” and then I showed him the door.

The original work of Colored Girls, spoke to my very core so I was skeptical about Tyler Perry’s adaptation of this incredible piece of work. But today I was pleasantly surprised. Perry didn’t change the story, he literally just gave us a modern visualization thirty years later to the written words of Ntozake Shange. I was both overjoyed and saddened. Overjoyed that he didn't cheapen this masterpiece, but saddened that this was still a relevant black woman’s story thirty years later. Not just for other women, but even for me.

Yes, it took me down memory lane, raped, violated and used. But it also spoke to my right now and my current struggle with men. I was reminded today that I must continue to accept my culpability in the messes that pierce my heart. How quickly we blame men for our broken heart when we had a choice. Even Janet’s character ignored the signs in exchange to have companionship; what a price to pay. Thank God she eventually found herself. Better late than never, huh? The modern day Lady in Red demonstrates that power and wealth means nothing in the face of HIV. Women, we must love ourselves over the need to have or want a man in our lives.

Yes, I am renewed today by Perry’s adaptation of Colored Girls. And I am reminded that I must continue to go within, because there lays the best part of me. And most important, I must love her fiercely and when that is done, no one will ever walk away with, "alla my stuff."

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