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

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Tea With Rae: The Most Unbelievable Blends of Tea

My Tea With Rae Project has taken off beyond anything I could have imagined in such a short period of time. I have tea companies sending me tea to sample for review left and right and I'm excited!! Tea makes me happy and right about now, I'm one happy camper. And even better, tea is a joy I have that AIDS can't take from me! POW!!!

On with the tea story: So last week a woman tweeted me that she had been to my blog and was inspired by me. I looked at her Twitter account and discovered that she owned a tea company that specializes in unusual tea blends. But, ummmm, the flavors of these blended teas sounded too good to be true. I mean, Strawberry Cheese Cake, Orange Creamsicle, Root Beer, Strawberry Lemonade, and the list goes on and on. I didn't believe the hype, not one bit, and I wanted to put her to the test.

Great minds think alike because we tweeted each other right about the same time about working together. Less then a week later I got a ton of samples of her teas. When I got the shipment, I was like, Good Lawd! Can I really sample this many teas in less than a week? Yep, all fourteen of them! LOL!

The NecessiTeas is a small independent tea company. The owner, Linsey Manning, develops all the tea blends herself. About five years back, she went to High Tea and loved the fanfare but hated the tea. She set out to find a tea that matched her sweet tooth, but had no luck. After months of research, her husband suggested that she open her own tea company and the rest, as they say, is history. Her unusual blends have taken off. In fact, the International Emmys just asked her to consider putting her blends in the gift baskets they give to the stars this year. I love her story, a woman taking a simple curiosity and developing a business. I have a lot in common with Linsey, her drive, her passion, and her willingness to take risks. Oh yeah, and she's an absolute sweetheart. We email each other at least five times a day about tea project ideas.

With that said, let's talk about tea. Words can be very powerful for sure, but actions, in my opinion, always speak louder than words. So the labels on her tea tins are meaningless if what's on the outside doesn't match what's on the inside.

So I put The NecessiTea's to the test. And you all know I don't lie. So here goes. My first sample was Orange Creamsicle. STOP! My favorite so far. It brought back the memory of my childhood days running to the Good Humor truck in search of my creamsicle pop. This rooibos tea has a smooth and creamy taste. It is blended with orange peel and white chocolate chips. Yes, I said white chocolate chips. And each flavor pops out at you reminiscent of this childhood delight.

I wanted to stop right there because I was in heaven but I still had a major task ahead of me in just three short days. Next in my tea cup was the Strawberry Cheesecake. Yes, it tasted just like strawberry cheesecake. Now let me be honest, I don't like strawberry cheesecake. I prefer plain cheesecake, nor do I like root beer, but for sure they were great representations of the favor. In fact, my friend Brittany was over and fell in love with the Root Beer Float. I continued down the list. Tea after tea, the flavors were pretty much accurate.

Now the green and oolong tea blends had a distinctive taste characteristic of those types of teas. For example, while the Bananas Fosters clearly tasted like the famous dessert, it also reflected green tea, as did the White Chocolate Cranberry. The Cinnamon Bear, a white rooibos tea, actually reminded me a little of Red Hots with it's strong pungent cinnamon taste.

The Spicy Peach, a white tea will be perfect on a cold winter night. And Peppermint Pattie is a great alternative to plain peppermint tea. The rooibos teas tended to be a tad sweeter, I'm sure because rooibos leaf is naturally sweet. But ummmm that Bananas Fosters still had the same lockjaw sweetness of that dessert. To enhance my flavors I put one pack of Splenda in my cup and Linsey recommends milk in the black tea blends to make it a tad more decadent.

Were there any that I didn't like? Yep, the Toasted Coconut was a big fat fail. Oolong, the tea in this particular blend, is an acquired taste, just like green tea. (I will be taping a video this weekend explaining the different tea categories.) But for fans of these particular teas I think they will do just fine. I'm learning, just like you with this tea project, to broaden my horizons. We are on this tea journey together. But I told Linsey that if she blends a green tea that I love she would be a miracle worker. But don't be confused about green tea, it has a very high concentration of antioxidants and many health benefits.

Over all, I think The NecessiTeas teas are great! Linsey has a goldmine for sure. Not only do I recommend her teas, but I have also purchased some. I'm waiting on my delivery of Irish Breakfast. I typically drink this tea in the morning for a little stronger blend then English Breakfast. And yes, I'm going there, Chocolate Hazelnut, a decadent blend for sure, and Monica's Hope, a wonderful blend of orange, cheesecake and rose petal. Linsey created this tea to support her girlfriend who was fighting cancer. Such a great cause to match a great flavor. It was one of my favs also. Oh shoot, maybe I ordered Orange Creamsicle. Oh well, I guess that's another I have to order, huh?

The NecessiTeas will be a regular on my Tea With Rae blog post. So stay tuned for the next review and a joint project coming soon with Linsey Manning and her wonderful tea company!!!

Raffle: I am proud to announce that The NecessiTeas is giving away a tin of tea to one of my readers! And I am giving away a Tea Bracelet! They will both go to one winner! What's loose tea without a Tea Bracelet? 

Raffle Rules:
1. Follow The NecessiTeas on Twitter
2. Like The NecessiTeas Facebook page
3. Like my Facebook page
4. Follow me on Twitter
5. And comment on THIS post about the influence my tea tweets and/or Tea With Rae Blogs have had on your interest in tea. And it should be compelling, #ForReal, but it does not have to be long...

Note: The winner will be announced on next Thursday's Tea With Rae Blog Post.

Finally: Anyone who orders a minimum of $10.00 from The NecessiTeas will be able to choose 3 samples from my 5 favorites of her teas. Type in TeaWithRae in the note section at checkout. The choices are: Monica's Hope, Strawberry Cheesecake, Creamsicle, Irish Breakfast, and Strawberry Kiwi.

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