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 13, 2011

Tea With Rae: The Power of White

Without a doubt white has always been the color to symbolize purity, sacred, freshness, cleanliness and for the most part all things good. And without a doubt, this describes white tea. And while that sounds all good, in my mind white foods are always bland and sometimes boring. I mean take white rice, I don't know about you, but good Lord, it needs salt, sugar, butter, or a wonderful sauce to stimulate my pallet.

For that reason alone I never paid much attention to white teas. I'm such a black tea lover that white seems so opposite from black. For one, I love the strong bold taste of black and I assumed that a white tea could never compare to black, so what would be the point? But as I broaden my horizon's on this tea journey, I'm learning to never judge a tea by it's color.

So for the very first time, I tried a white tea last week. Well, I tried two white teas last week and I'm on a mission to find more. I'll tell you about the taste after I tell you a little about white tea and it's power. Looking at this picture of a camellia sinensis plant you can see it's natural beauty. And believe it or not, it's the same plant that harvests black, green and oolong teas. For Real. But there are a few differences. For one, white tea comes from the more delicate buds and younger leaves of the plant.

But the real difference is in the process to make this tea. After being picked, the buds are placed in natural sunlight to wither before they are lightly processed. This is done to prevent further oxidation and/or fermentation. In this scheme of things, this process preserves the color, the light delicate taste, and most of the antioxidants that give us health benefits from white tea.

And the health benefits are off the freaking chain! The thing that stuck out the most was the benefit for depression and for me that is important. It is no secret that I struggle with depression. I mean, shoot, if some of you lived one day in my shoes, it would be enough to send you over the edge. For Real. But depression is very common in people with HIV. That's why I have always been a big advocate of therapy and anti-depressants if needed. Meaning, if the physical effects of depression are present that may be a route one needs to consider.

But shoot, isn't it great to know that something as simple as tea can also help you on this journey. And don't act like it's just me. The winter months alone make us sad and decreases the serotonin in our brain. The shorter days with less sunlight has an effect on EVERYONE! I aint gonna bore you with all the details but here is a snapshot. White tea contains a compound called L-theanine. It's an amino acid that enters the brain and has shown to reduce different types of stress. It's a natural compound that works much like antidepressants by increasing the serotonin, dopamine, and gamma aminobutyric acid levels in the brain. And guess what, you can drink as much as you want, it's harmless. So when you are feeling blue, put that darn bottom down and have a cup of white tea!

Now to the good part. Did I like it? Yes! Yes! Yes! It was a much milder taste than black tea for sure. And if you are looking for that caffeine boost, look another way. It has about 1% caffeine. Sorry. But I tried  Pai Mu Tan from ESP Emporium. This particular tea is a sub category of white tea and comes from the plant white peony.

It's a light airy tea with a very mild spice taste. I always add a half packet of Splenda to boost the flavor. It will be a great tea after a long day at work. The color is more amber which throws the black tea drinker off a bit. The impulse is to brew longer, but please don't. Also, the hot water for white tea should not be as hot. Once you turn the tea kettle off, give it a minute or two. If the water is too hot it will scorch the tea leaves altering the taste.

I also had a blended white/green tea from ESP Emporium which was a tad more exciting. It's Pai Mu Tan: green tea, cinnamon rods and apple pieces. Snowflake reminded me of cinnamon, spice and the holidays. I also think those who find Chai Tea, like me, too overbearing with the spices, will find that they enjoy this blend of sweet caramel and spice. ESP Emporium have a host of blended white teas, I'm hoping they will let me try them to report back to you.

The thing about a white tea such as Pai Mu Tan is that the taste is so mild that you can mix it with another tea to get a bolder taste, or more caffeine and still have the health benefits! And did I say white tea boosts your metabolism and that's great for weight loss, lowers your cholesterol, lowers your blood pressure, has free-radicals that fight cancer, boosts your energy, and it has fluoride, huh? Yes, to help your teeth, relieves stress and the list goes on and on. Enuf Said!!!

ESP Emporium offers all my readers a 10% discount. The coupon code is TeaWithRae. Give them a try. They have one of the largest online tea selections I have ever seen. The teas are fresh and customer service is great!

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