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 10, 2011

Monday Reflection: Open Your Mind - Grow and Go!

I tell people often, always be open. You never know when or how some new information will add value to your life. Many of us know what we know, and what we know seems to be enough. But the saying, you are never to old to learn is very true. In the same spirit, you're never too smart, never too black or white, male or female, rich or poor. There are lessons everywhere you go and in everything you do. But you've got to have an open mind and spirit so the newness can be deposited.

That's just what happened to me last night. Flipping the channels I landed on the OWN network at the beginning of Oprah Presents Master Class featuring Jay-Z. Until yesterday I had never given much thought to Jay-Z one way or another. I never latched on to rap music, so for the most part, I was a tad indifferent.

Yes, maybe like most people I thought this ghetto boy had done good with what he had to work with. But, really, I had never paid much attention to him one way or another. In fact, when his book Decoded hit the shelves, I couldn't understand the madness. So last night, my first impulse was to keep flipping the channels. Jay-Z, hummm, I don't think so. But then something in my spirit said, "So why does Oprah, who has been critical of the rap industry, think Jay-Z is a master?" That one question made me stop in my tracks and watch.

Sometimes the question may not be connected to someone else, like mine was with Oprah. I could have very well asked myself, "Is there anything I can learn from a person I seem to have nothing in common with? Like me and Jay-Z?" However that moment hits you, your mind and spirit must be open to receiving it.

Sometimes our minds are cluttered with so much of what we know, what we think we know, that knowing something new is blocked by the old. But the Bible says you cannot put new wine in old bottles. When Jesus was asked why his disciples didn't fast, but the Pharisees fast often (Mt 9:14:1), he replies by saying, "Neither is new wine put into the old wineskins; otherwise, the skins burst, and the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved" (Mt 9:17) Bottom line, some of that mess in your head should have been thrown in the trash years ago to make room for the new! For Real!!

But some of us are stuck in our madness. Caught in the world of insanity, doing the same thing, over and over again and expecting a different outcome each time. As a result, we stare failure in the face that grows a self-loathing and a cycle of failure. You begin to think this is the only life for you. This is what you deserve and it then becomes a way of life. It becomes your comfort zone, not only for your mind and spirit, but even for our bodies. Some of us refuse to move out of our old environments because the chaos is more comfortable then the exploration of something better. But you can only grow by making yourself uncomfortable.

It's just like the mouse in the book, Who Moved My Cheese. A MUST READ! We would prefer to starve to death rather then step out of our safety zone to find food. Jay-Z said many things that resonated with me and my current journey. But this, "You must always continue to reinvent yourself," validated for me that I was on the right path. Sometimes the journey can seem like you're in the wilderness, but you have got to keep moving, even in the darkness.

I believe you take the foundation of what you have and build on that. It may be something different from what you've done in the past but it's standing on a firm foundation. Yes, it's scary doing something new and different. The impulse is to do what we know, but we have to change our way of thinking, and the only way to change how we think is to add new information to what we know.

But even if you know better, you have to be willing to do better. And just like the little mouse, you may even have to leave your comfort zone, your environment, and your friend's behind to grow, whether it is body, mind or spirit. In the final analysis, to be the best you that you can be, you must open your mind and grow, but you must also go! When you know better you should #DoBetter! To keep your mind, body and spirit in the old, destroys the possibility for the new.

Note: I purchased Decoded this morning. I never thought it would end up on my bookshelves. See, Gotta be Open to Change. I have no expectations for this book... I'm just opened to the possibilities. It also made Oprah's Favorite Things List!

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