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, December 1, 2010

World AIDS Day 2010: A Retrospective

Sixteen years ago today I appeared on the cover of Essence Magazine as the first Black woman to tell her story to a major publication. It was brave of me to tell the world that I had AIDS. Back then we saw AIDS as mostly white gay males. And if by chance a woman did have HIV, in the minds of most, she had to be an IV drug user or something close to a street walker. The idea that  a “decent” woman became infected with HIV was far fetched.

Then my story changed everything, especially for African-American women. Through my life we told women that even education, economics and a monogamous relationship did not necessarily keep you safe from HIV. It was bold for both me and Essence. Even the idea of putting a no-name woman on the cover of a magazine reserved for super models and celebrities was risk taking at it's best. But it paid off. It was one of the highest selling December issues ever and we achieved our goal. Black women across the United States started to rethink their relationships and sexual behavior. In fact, women still reach out to me to let me know that my story changed their life. I'm proud of that fact.

The cover of Essence changed my life and put me in the center of the fight against HIV/AIDS. Honestly, I had only been speaking for about six months when Susan Taylor asked me to do the cover story. Prior to that I had been living in secret and shame with HIV for about seven years. Then I made a transition to AIDS and I was staring death in the face. I started to disclose to friends and God started working out it all out. I accepted this new role for my life with transparency, grace and dignity.

I was on a mission to tell as many people my story before I died and I met this challenge with zeal. When my t-cell count was eight I was maintaining a breakneck schedule. AIDS was a sexy topic and I was at the center of it all. Eventually television came calling. The Oprah Winfrey Show.  Nightline followed me for six months and featured me three times. I even did a a series of first person news reports for CBS News Chicago that won me an Emmy.

But then things changed. I didn't die. I made it to the turning point in treatment, protease inhibitors. Things first changed in my personal life. My husband had married me to watch me die. He was gonna go around the country and talk to people about his life as my caregiver. But the longer I lived the more difficult the relationship became. He didn't know how to deal with my living. It became so bad, that I decided AIDS hadn't killed me, he wasn't going to kill me either. I found myself rethinking my life. I went to seminary and got my Master of Divinity to expand my work.  And I'm working on my PhD in Church History. I had always seen what I do as ministry.

I continued to travel and speak and the longer I lived the less sexy the topic of HIV/AIDS became. I saw a sharp shift in newly diagnosed cases of Black women and a lack of interest all at the same time. Essence hadn't been enough. But I never gave in or up. I continued to press forward and so did HIV. Black women became 72% of all new cases of HIV and AIDS became the number one killer of African-American women between the ages of 25-44.

So today I am saddened by it all. I mean it's World AIDS Day and I don't have a speaking engagement. Come on, I'm one of the most name recognizable Black women in America with AIDS and I don't have a gig today. It seems all surreal for me.

So I'm sitting here on my sofa wondering when will the tide turn. I'm wondering when will it ever get better?  When will the tide change for the better? When will the numbers decrease for African-Americans, both men and women? What will it take to make AIDS important today. Just as important as it became for white gay men in the 80's and  early 90's.
I have no answers to these questions that others need to help answer, I can only speak for myself. I will cross every T and dot every I until the day I die. I will take my medication and live as good of a life as I possibly can until my earthly purpose is over.

I will also continue to do the work. So just because I didn't have a big fancy speaking engagement at a college accompanied by a check to help pay my bills, that's real, I'm still forging on. Still doing what I do best. Because my life and work is ministry. I will walk through whatever doors God opens for me and I will continue to do it with grace and dignity until the day I die.

My World AIDS Day Schedule...
 5:45 a.m. cst-  NBC Chicago News Interview (Live)
9:30 am cst- Fourth Presbyterian World AIDS Day Workship Sevice
12noon-1:00-cst  Twitter Chat with the Boss Network
1:00-5:00 pm (cst)  Question and Answers on Twitter and Facebook
I will be going back and fourth between the two Social Media Networks
Featured on BET.com
Featured on BET 106th and Park shows airs 5-7pm cst
7:00-9:00 pm cst  Hanging with the ladies for a discussion and Ice Cream Social at Good Gyrrl Studio
1200 W. 35th Street Lower Level Free!!! All Are Welcomed....

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