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, May 2, 2011

Monday Reflection: Another Page in the History of My Life!

As I was working on today's blog, an open letter to my critics, I became overwhelmed thinking about the task ahead of me this week. So that blog has been put on hold a tad longer. This coming Saturday, I will receive the distinguished Alumna Award and deliver the commencement address at my alma mater Northeastern Illinois University.

The day that I received the call from the President's office, I was at the hospital receiving medication intravenously to treat an infection and was at a low point in that day. It was the best news I could have ever received. But now, six days out, it is starting to sink in. Since last week I'm fasting on Mondays and Wednesdays for God to give me something to say. It's clearly a full circle moment.

When I arrived at Northeastern Illinois University at 26 years old, I had behind me two failed years at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. And I mean fail. I left each year on academic suspension. After the second year I gave up on school and started building my career as a political organizer. That's the reason I had flunked out in the first place. Instead of going to class, I was always doing something, boycotting the university foundation investments in South African, registering students to vote, organizing bus loads of students to Get Out The Vote for Harold Washington. If there was a good political cause, I was at the center of it.

So after I punched out the last time, with a GPA of 1 point something and only 12 credit hours to my name, I thought I might as well pursue my passion. With suitcase in tote, I landed in Washington DC and began my building my career as a national political organizer. But in 1988, after the general election, I understood that I had the skills but now I needed the education to be really be taken seriously.

When I arrived at Northeastern it was a challenge from the beginning. I didn't qualify for any financial aid because I left on academic suspension. I had no study habits and no one had any faith in me. I had been threatening to go back to school for 6 years.

After that first semester I was recommended for the university's honor's program that actually gave me a full ride. In two and a half years, I graduated from the university honor's program cum laude. I was a half a point from magna cum laude. And I was sick about it... Still am...

But that day I walked across that stage with pride. In just under three years I had earned just about every  award/honor Northeastern gave. I remember when I walked across the stage I could hear Jesse Jackson Jr. and Jonathon Jackson screaming. I asked afterward, What the heck was y'all screaming for?" Now Congressman Jackson said, "Girl, you had more metal around your neck than anyone, that was something to scream to the world. Shoot, I was proud."

Me, Audrey and her girls
I was proud of me too. I didn't realize how capable I was or how smart I was until I came to Northeastern. I mean, I did leave SIU was a GPA of a 1 point something, for real. But the faculty in the Political Science department saw my potential and they pushed me. Between Dr. Ellen Cannon and Dr. Val Simms they were determined to make me reach my potential. The entire environment at Northeastern was truly wonderful. I met my one of my BFF's there, Audrey, and our friendship has stayed steady in these 20 plus years. But the greatest thing Northeastern did for me is make me believe that I was smart. That foundation under girded all my education to follow.

But today it feels bittersweet. I have no family to share this day with. Yes, Audrey will be there smiling from ear to ear, but I'm not sure of anyone else. It is what it is... these days I have learned to accept with Grace that which I get.

The insecure little girl is taking over everything that's within me. I can't help but to wonder what Mama would think. She told me that I was never gonna be shit. She drilled into my head that I had no self-worth and was not worth her protection. I wonder if she would say I fucked someone to get this honor? That's just how Mama was. For Real. All the hard work I put into the Jackson presidential campaign with pride and honor, all Mama had to say was, "She ain't working for Jesse Jackson, he just keeping her around cause she's fucking him." And the kicker, she said it in a room full of people. For Real. But that's just how Mama was. In some ways, she helped to make me who I am. I have spent my entire life proving her wrong.

So in spite of Mama, or maybe in some way because of Mama, on Saturday, I will receive one of the greatest honors a person can be given by their university. This honor will be written into the history book of my life and I will forever be humbled by it... Never in my wildest imagination did I ever think I could or would receive such an honor.

But it is true when you are faithful to God's call on your life, He will honor your fidelity. The worst of sins is not knowing what God wants from you. The greatest sin is knowing what God wants and ignoring it. From the moment I appeared on the cover of Essence I never wavered of faltered on the work that was before me.

Against all my critics I have used my life and my story to help enrich the lives of others. I've taken the sum total of my life and I've given the sum total of my life to this ministry and for that God is bestowing a wonderful honor on me.

I'm forever humbled and amazed at the way God works. For I know today that this has to be a God thing because there is no way I could have done this on my own!

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