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

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Oprah and Me: A Retrospective!

I remember when I first started to speak, people kept asking me, "Girl when you gonna be on the Oprah Show?" It seemed like Oprah was the end all to end all. I mean people would say to me, "Girl, when you do the Oprah Show you've arrived." And for a moment, I had a lapse in judgement and started to buy into the madness.

By the time the Oprah Show called, I had already been on the cover of three magazines and had received the coveted Emmy Award and Nightline had done a Friday night special on me entitled "Rae's Story." So it wasn't as if God hadn't opened doors for me. That was evident. But because of the greatness and popularity of Oprah, my accomplishments in the eyes of others didn't seem to match up to being on the Oprah Show.

I remember that day the Oprah Show called as if it was yesterday. I spoke with a producer who asked if I would I do a show called "Scared Straight Out of Having Sex." The title threw me for a loop and I got real quite as she explained that they wanted me to allow some teenagers, who were having "unprotected sex," spend the day with me and I was supposed to scare them straight out of not having sex. Huh? That didn't feel right, it felt tabloid-like and I don't do tabloid. If this had been any other show, I would have turned them down five minutes into the conversation. But this was Oprah... The big time!

The producer sensed my hesitation, so in a series of conversations over the course of the day, she pitched and pitched and pitched. Finally I gave in. Maybe I could do some good, I started to believe. But it still didn't feel right. These girls were to spend the day with me and that was supposed to scare them straight.. Hummm.. But I looked great and had a breakneck schedule, not bedridden. And my life didn't meet any of the stereotypes of people living with AIDS at the time. So I was even doubtful that they could even achieve such a thing with me. But I agreed, because this was the Oprah Show.

But about 9 pm that evening, a junior producer from the show called and asked me to pull some pictures of myself when I was a teenager having unprotected sex. That was a big RED flag. And I called her on it and she couldn't spin it well. I went to sleep with a heavy heart and a prayer for the Lord to give me clarity. That morning I woke and called the senior producer and she spent about an hour stepping out of the pile of shit the junior producer had made.

I agreed again, but was way uneasy. So I had a neutral person, a friend of mine in the business call on my behalf. I said to Phil, "This is what I'm hearing, tell me what you are hearing." When he called back an hour later he said me, "Rae, this show is actually what you think it is, borderline tabloid." He went on to say, "I've heard you say over and over that the most important thing to you is ministry. Now you must decide, ministry or Oprah."

It was one of the hardest decisions that I ever made in my career, but an hour before Oprah's people were to meet me at the clinic to shoot footage, I cancelled. Lawd! Lawd! I had cancelled the Oprah Show, For Real, and they were some kinda hot with me. But I felt that this particular show didn't give me space to do ministry.

And I was told by people in the industry that I would probably not get asked again. Then a few months later they came calling yet again. And I told the producer to give me her best pitch in writing. I needed some distance because the producers are good at what they do, getting you to say yes.

And for the second time I had turned the Oprah Show down. I was sure that I wouldn't get asked again. But I felt as if I could live with that. Because for me, my ministry is more important then fame. And looking back today, Oprah confirmed everything I believe! She said on the show today, "It's not about fame, but about service." Those first shows that were presented to me gave me the opportunity for fame, but not for service.

I've got to be honest, I've had a bumpy road with Oprah Winfrey and her organizations. The magazine feature on me is a whole other topic for another day.

But I must also admit that I am so very honored today. Out of all the clips that The Oprah Show could have used in this final show they choose a clip of me from the show that I actually agreed to.

Yep, a year later they called again. And this producer, Lisa Minor, had a totally different approach. An African-American woman herself, she had been following my ministry and she understood what is was that I do. So I agreed to appear on this show, talking about long term survivors living with AIDS.

Oprah is a giant there is no doubt. And at the beginning of this year, people kept saying to me, "Boy wouldn't it be great for Oprah to have you on her show this last season." And it would have been nice I thought. I mean the show that I did was about long term survivors with AIDS, of which I was at the time. And now I've lived 14 years longer than that show.

That's not the kind of person that I am and I just couldn't. But the producer at Oprah never returned my calls or emails. But I was confident that I had done the right thing. How you treat people is important and I treat people how I want to be treated. There was no way I could tell this Sista Lolly Bowean that your interview with me is not as important as Oprah.

And you know what? God honored that because what was just a feature story became a cover story for the Chicago Tribune. And the Tribune being syndicated, that story was reprinted across the US and even in Canada and it boosted my Social Media by leaps and bounds and helped to make me a serious contender in the social media world.

But you see... It's truly not about you or about fame, but about ministry, service and how you enrich the lives of others. You never have to worry about being in magazines, or on TV. If you are faithful to God's purpose for life, God will make room for your gift and open every door you are supposed to go through. That was confirmed today, I made the season finale of The Oprah Show after all.

Today, I salute Oprah for following God's purpose for her life... May she continue to work in that purpose with clarity! Because that's exactly what I will do until the day I die!

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