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, April 4, 2012


Dan, Yonnie, Ashley Shooting in my home!
Over the years I've allowed cameras into my life. Mainly as a way to educate and challenge stigma around HIV/AIDS.

Nope it's not fun, but rather intrusive. I do it because I believe it's important to use every tool available to educate around HIV/AIDS.

I want people to understand that those of us living with HIV/AIDS are "normal" too. I also want people to understand that HIV is no cake walk. Yes, we can treat you, but this is not the best life for you; Therefore, protect yourself because HIV is real and does not discriminate. Just so you know, all the press that I do is free. Every magazine cover, news article and television interview. No one pays for what they consider, "news." So I truly do this from my heart. I see every single interview as a part of my ministry.

Back last spring, I had three Northwestern University students approach me about their class project; Dan Q.Tham, Yonnie Yang and Ashley Yates, asked if they could follow me and do a story short documentary for their class.

I said yes because they are future journalists and should be encouraged to report about the issues around HIV/AIDS.  When we started  the project, they didn't have an angle, but as they shot footage on me, they decided to focus on an area of my life that no one has ever done, my glam!  I've often been asked if I've always had this flair for the finer things in life, or did it come with my quasi fame. Truly, this has been  me since for as long as I can remember. I did a blog a while back on The Making of a Diva... Click Here To Read!

Their focus on Diva made me a  a bit nervous because I didn't want people to get the wrong impression and miss my message. But they actually were able to capture my life in a very creative way. I even let them shoot footage of me at the hair salon, which I've never done.

On one  particular day they were scheduled to shoot footage after a doctors appointment. That day I had an unexpected biopsy on my vulva. I did not want to do it, but they insisted. In the end, while I was a crab puff to put it lightly, I think it was an important part of the story.

People see the glam, but almost never see me on those days when I'm not doing good. This was a great documentary and I'm glad that I allowed them into my life. It was a side of me that is rarely seen, but a part of me nonetheless.

Two weeks ago this short documentary Diva premiered at The Talking Pictures Film Festival  at Northwestern University and was a great success.

I want to share it with you today: Diva!

Diva from Yoonie Yang on Vimeo.
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