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, January 17, 2011

Monday Reflection: Doers Not Dreamers...

Most people know me as an Emmy Award winning AIDS activist, but my life was committed to social change long before I appeared on the cover of Essence magazine. In many ways, my work in social justice paved the way for the work that I do now. My training ground was Operation PUSH, a legacy of which I am very proud. I remember one of the first assignments given to all the interns was to read, Why We Can't Wait, by Dr. Martin Luther King. It was the first of Dr. King's writings I had ever read and it set the tone for everything I did after.

Operation PUSH began as Operation Breadbasket, the economic arm of Dr. King's work in social justice. Dr. King appointed Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. as the national director. After Dr. King's death, it evolved into Operation PUSH where Rev. Jackson and a host of Civil Rights workers continued the work. They shut down A&P grocery stores on many Saturdays, demanding economic reciprocity. A&P's saturated Chicago's black communities getter richer daily from our dollars, yet only hired blacks for the most menial of jobs. Rev. Jackson, under the realm of Operation PUSH, fought for that change.

Operation PUSH was always referred to as Dr. King's workshop. It was seen as an extension of Dr. Kings work in Social Justice. Our focus was not remembering the dream of Dr. King, but the work of Dr. King. In fact, I can't ever remember the I Have A Dream speech as a starting point for conversation. Instead, we were reminded that Dr. King was assassinated working. He was in Memphis supporting the garbage workers boycott. We were reminded that Dr. King's work began with Civil Rights but once African-Americans were given the right to equal accommodations and the Voting Rights's Act was passed, King didn't quit. No, King shifted his work to the other important issues that affected not only African-Americans but all Americans. He shifted his work to economic fairness, poverty, and the Vietnam War.

Dr. King's workshop was a place where people came to work for change. Everything we did was about the advancement of others. This was not an organization, we were a movement. There was no set work day, we worked until the job was done. Many of us worked 10-12 hour days. One of my first projects was the boycott of Anheuser-Busch. A large portion of their sales were from African-Americans, but there were no distributorships, no senior management, and no investments in the Black community. They also held these Super Festival's with Black entertainers and all Black audiences, but yet, they used no Black promoters or public relations' companies to run these festivals.

I organized college students across the country, "Bud Is A Dud, Don't Drink Those Suds," was our battle cry. And we shut down those festivals in city after city after city. Anheuser-Busch lost money that summer and it forced them to sit down with us.

Yes, my time spent at Dr. King's workshop was about making change happen not dreaming about change. As the National Youth Director for Jesse L. Jackson for President campaigns, I crisscrossed this country registering college students to vote and organizing them to help get the vote out. I worked the Democratic Convention in '88 when Rev. Jackson fought for the one man one vote change in the Democratic party, which, by the way, paved the way twenty years later for Barack Obama to win the Democratic nomination. It was an exciting time in my life. I sat in meetings with women like Dorothy Height and Alexis Herman. Staff meetings were run by Rev. Jackson. To sit in his presence and absorb it all like a sponge helped to shape me into the woman that I am today. My peers were women like Donna Brazile. It was an awesome time in my life.

I was at the epicenter of it all fighting to help bring about change. We were doers not dreamers. My work in HIV/AIDS is just an extension of my work at Dr. King's workshop. I remember that Rev. Jackson was the first presidential candidate to have an AIDS policy. He would sleep in AIDS hospices and share meals with people dying from AIDS at a time when the current President couldn't get the word AIDS out of his mouth and discrimination was running rampant in our schools, hospitals, churches, funeral parlors, and even our homes.

My transition to an AIDS activist is a natural one for me. It is some of the most important work for African-Americans at this time in history. We have got to change the tide of AIDS in our community. African-Americans are 46% of HIV cases in the United States and only 12% of the population. AIDS is the number one killer of African-Americans in the United States between the ages of 25-44. There are 30,000 new cases of HIV a year and African-Americans are 42% of that number. We have to change the tide.

We must change the tide. We must challenge stigma and shame. We must educate so behavior can change, and we must challenge the government and traditional AIDS organizations to give us access to the money and resources for us to do the work. I get asked often by someone in the AIDS community, "What are Black folks going to do about AIDS in the Black community?" Yes, we do have to step up to the plate even more than we have. And don't be confused, there are Black people who do the work. But my question is, "What's the AIDS community going to do to help?" We deserve the same support and resources that the gay community received in the earlier period of the AIDS crisis in the U.S. Bottom line: There is much work for all of us to do.

So, for me, I make a renewed commitment to continue to do the work until the day I die. Looking back, over twenty-five years later, I'm grateful I learned all that I needed to know to carry out this work inside Dr. King's workshop at the feet of Rev. Jesse L. Jackson. I am honored to be a part of this legacy of doers not dreamers.

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