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

Friday, June 3, 2011

Looking Back At 30!

Today is the 30th anniversary of the first diagnosed cases of AIDS. On June 2, 1981, five men were diagnosed with GRID, Gay Related Immune Deficiency in Los Angeles. Thinking back to what I was doing at the time... Let's see, that summer I was working at Paul Harris boutique in the Water Tower Place mall on Chicago's Magnificent Mile and preparing to go off to Southern Illinois University at Carbondale for school. I had been roughing it, trying to make my way in this world since my senior year of high school, October 1979.

I don't remember hearing about AIDS back then and if I did with a name like GRID, I probably would have dismissed it in seconds. I mean I am a heterosexual woman and gay had nothing to do with me. And given the fact that I was trying to figure out where my next meal was coming from, a disease like this would have been the last thing on my mind. I mean at this point in my life, I hadn't had one sexually transmitted disease.

I wonder if my life would have been different if they had diagnosed women that day rather than men. Or if they had not narrowed AIDS to the belief that this was a disease about men, that men gave to each other. If somewhere they had considered---if men had sex and women had sex, and according to my TV doctor House, everyone lies, that maybe one of these men had sex with a woman at least once in their life and that maybe women were at risk for this strange illness as well. But they didn't!

The medical community made this disease a scary boogie man that men did to each other and if you weren't one of them, then you were free. But none of that really matters today because in just two short years of those first cases, the summer of 1983, I had sex with a man and he infected me with HIV. And my life changed forever. I didn't know at the time and he probably didn't know at the time either. I wouldn't discover until the winter of 1986, a year after the HIV antibody test hit the market, that I was actually infected with HIV.

Since I was diagnosed it feels like I've lived three life times. For sure AIDS has had a major impact on my life and for sure I have been fighting for my life! And for sure I will be fighting for my life for the rest of my life. But today looking back on the history of AIDS, the thing I wish the most is not for myself. I've lived my life and made my choices. All I can do is stand and be a woman and accept with dignity and grace the choices I made about my life and body.

No, today the wish is not for me but for every person that does not have HIV today... My wish is that you never get HIV! The thing that we have known for almost this entire pandemic is the thing that gets overlooked the most: HIV is a preventable disease. We can change the course of this disease by changing our behavior.

We must put personal responsibility into the equation if we are to change the tide and not drown in this ugly disease. We must make condom use a normal, natural and vital part of our sex lives. We must understand one fundamental thing... The only sure winner against becoming HIV infected is either no sex or sex with a latex condom. Anything other then that is a stupid ass gamble. Honestly, I don't know if different information would have changed the course of my life. What I know for sure is that my life has been changed forever by AIDS...

I tweeted today that people don't really understand me... The drum that I beat to or the song that I sing. I do what I must so that AIDS won't kill my spirit before it takes my life. Yes, I do what I must... No, this isn't the journey I would have wanted for myself but it is the journey that I've accepted with Grace.

Looking back 30 years later... My prayer today is not for me but for you... That you will never know my pain or walk in my shoes. HIV is preventable, this I also know for sure.

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