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

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

What I Think About HIV Home Testing...

Today the FDA approved the first  rapid take home HIV Antibody Test, Oral Quick. I have to be honest, I have mixed feelings about it. On one level I get it, there are about 240,000 people in the United States that do not know their HIV status and with this in mind, there is a need to have as many vehicles possible for people to get HIV tested.

Testing is important because the early you know your status, the early you get into treatment, the longer you are likely to live. Also, early anti-viral treatment  lowers the chances by 96% that a person will pass HIV to their partners.  Approximately 38% of newly diagnosed cases of HIV are people infected by persons that didn't know that they were infected. With 50,000 new cases of HIV in the United States a year, testing is critical. Treatment can becomes a form of prevention, but a person has to know their status to get to this point. Also, most people who know their HIV status try to protect their partners from infections

I get it! Testing is important! However, I also understand that there is still so much stigma around HIV. I think technology around HIV/AIDS has surpassed attitudes about HIV. Some days, I think we are still in the dark ages with how people feel about people with HIV. I blogged about that on Monday's Reflection.

I'm not sure that testing yourself alone is the best place to learn your status. If your test comes back negative their will be a hugh relief. But what happens when you test positive? Will you have enough courage to go to the doctors to begin the treatment process?

The guilt and shame that comes with an HIV diagnosis is imsurmoutable. A person has to be strong to get a positive HIV test  result at home. For Real! I learned my status from the Red Cross after routinely donating blood. It was in the early days, so the meeting only lasted 5 minutes. There wasn't much to tell me back then a like today. The only hope was that I would never make a transition to AIDS. If I didn't know God, I mean if I hadn't already lived a life time by the time I was 23 and diagnosed with HIV, I would have walked straight into the Potomac River. But I did know God, and I have always believed that God's plan was bigger than my plan, so I kept it moving.

But what about the people who don't have that kind of solid strength? What about those who test positive and go into denial. I foresee a lot of denial and thats both easy and dangerous. It's easy because there are no HIV symptoms, NONE. Symptoms only come 7-10 years after you are infected with HIV and making a transition to AIDS. A person can test positive and walk away thinking, "This has got to be wrong, I don't feel sick."

Also, the home test is only 92 percent accurate for people who are actually positive, while 99.98 for those who do not have HIV. This means that 12 would get a false negative and 1 and 5,000 uninfected would get a false positive.  Both of these come with a host self-explanatory problems.

At the end of the day, I still believe the best place to get tested for HIV is in a clinic that specializes in HIV testing, like an AIDS Clinic or the Health Department with trained HIV Counselors. Pre and Post Testing Counseling is important. It helps you to hash out your life in a way to truly understand your risk factors, it provides support and reassurance, no matter what your test result are. Taking an HIV test in Isolation can be dangerous.

If in fact you do decide to use the home HIV test, my recommendation is that no matter what your test results are, you should be re-tested  with a blood draw by a health professional.

 If you do test positive for sure, you must seek medical attention immediately, knowing that you are positive and doing nothing at all is just like not knowing. Expect you do know. Slowing disease progression should be your priority. Yes, it's true that HIV/AIDS is no longer the death sentence that it once was, but that is only true if you seek treatment as early as possible.

Technology has come a long way in the thirty-two years since the first cases of HIV in the United States. If we are going to take advantage of these advancements ,we should do it in the best way possible for our best benefit, otherwise it's futile.

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