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, October 8, 2013

Happy Birthday Rev. Jackson!!

Today is Rev. Jesse Louis Jackson Sr. birthday and I honor him with a this blog post that  I originally wrote in on Father's Day three years ago!

 I never knew my father. He was shot in the back of his head by his first cousin when I was a three years old, so I was told.  When I was 11 years old my mother hooked up with a man that she later married. But he was never a father. He spent most of his time terrorizing me. And when I told my mother that her husband was grabbing my breasts, she told me, “Bitch, I’m ain't gonna let you fuck up my shit.”

So I never had that loving family and for most of my life I was void of positive male influences, that is until I went to work at Operation PUSH. Mrs. Jacqueline Jackson took me under her wings and she and her husband, Rev. Jesse Louis Jackson, Sr., nurtured and helped to shape me into the woman that I am. I became a part of the family, even living with the Jackson clan at different periods of my life. I worked in all of his organizations and on both presidential campaigns. I was the Deputy National Youth Director for the '84 campaign and the National Youth Director for the '84 campaign.

Today, the Jackson’s are a major part of my support system. There is nothing Mrs. Jackson wouldn't do for me. I know that I will never be homeless or hungry as long as they both have breath in their body. There are many things that I can say about Rev. Jackson, but I will share a few from a tribute that I wrote for a book celebrating his 65th birthday. I went to work at PUSH as an intern when I was nineteen years old and stayed.

By the time I was in my mid twenties, Rev. Jackson had helped to shape me and my journey. He taught me to stand for right in the face of wrong. With a deep understanding I learned that God could use the least to do the most. His tutelage was the catalyst for my groundbreaking work around HIV/AIDS. I could hear him loudly, “If not now, when?” “If not you, who?" These words embedded in me gave me the courage to stand tall. His impact on my life reached far and deep. His impact on America can never be erased!

But the truest test of the man, the leader, the mentor and the surrogate father came for me in 1992. I stood in his kitchen and told Rev. Jackson that I had AIDS. I had been diagnosed with HIV for almost seven years and had never disclosed my status. My failure to disclose was mainly out of my shame and my own culpability in my infection, and of course, fear of rejection. But now I had AIDS and the secret was written all over my thin frame.

I remember it was like yesterday, I said, "Reverend, I need to talk to you.” We stood in his small kitchen. He shot me that fatherly look and said, “You’re pregnant." “No, not that,” I mumbled. And after a pause I said, "I have AIDS." "You mean HIV?" he asked, "No, I have AIDS," I mumbled again. Back then AIDS was a death sentence. He was trying to make sense of the fact that I just told him that I was dying. He looked straight at me, digesting the information. His silence made me nervous so I started rambling. He stood and listened with this blank stare, I couldn't read it to save my life. I gave him seven years of information in three minutes.

But he was never one for a lot of small talk  and true to form, he stopped me and simply said very matter of fact, "Rae, I loved you before AIDS, and I love you with AIDS.” Then he grabbed my hand and said, "Let's pray." We prayed together in his kitchen that day and made our way to the Dinning room to tell Mrs. Jackson together.

That day Rev. Jackson validated for me the measure of a man. He was not only the first presidential candidate with an AIDS policy who spent nights in AIDS hospice with strangers left by their families to die, he was also one of the first African-American Leader's from the old guard to take a solid stand in this HIV/AIDS fight. Yes, his training and nurturing helped to shape who I am and that became a catalyst for the work that I do around HIV/AIDS and my public ministry. But most importantly, he was consistent. He and Mrs. Jackson have made themselves perfectly clear, you do not have to do it alone!

Rev. Jackson’s influence on my life reached deep within my soul. I am a better person because our destinies are bound together. I thank God for his place in my life. 
I thank God for his place in history. Happy Birthday Rev. Jackson!

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