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

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Meeting The True Southern Belle- Phaedra Parks!

Sometimes when you walk through the door you find out that there's so much more inside than you could have ever imagined. That's what happened on my most recent trip to Atlanta. My dear friend Keith asked if I would come and deliver both context and the prayer for HIV/AIDS and the homeless at the Martin Luther King Prayer Breakfast sponsored, by the African-American Human Rights Foundation.

This was not a paid gig, I was simply coming to lend my support to a friend. I was hesitant to stay two nights because I never want to leave my doggie Sophie for too long. But I did because Keith has been one of my most loyal and closest  friends from my political days. My other BFF Luke met me there and it was a two day world wind.

Let me tell you, sometimes you have to be willing to take a chance. If I tried I wouldn't have been able to plan such an exciting and productive trip. Let me say right off the bat, meeting and spending time with Phaedra Parks from The Real Housewives of Atlanta was AMAZING! Many of you know that my BFF Luke worked on the current season of RHOA as an associate producer.

He asked me to send Phaedra some bracelets  from RLT Collection, and she loved them! After that, Phadera expressed that she was impressed with my work around HIV/AIDS and looked forward to meeting me one day.

While in Atlanta, Luke reached out to her and while she and I were both on tight schedules we made it happen.

I sat in her fabulously decorated waiting area when Phaedra waltzed into her office with all the charm and grace of a true Southern Belle and looking fabulous. I wanted to steal that fur vest she was wearing and you know her black studded handbag was to die for. LOL.

"Finally we meet!" she exclaimed as we embraced! We settled in her private office and I felt like I had known Phaedra for years. In her stylish office that has a classic feel with a modern edge, we talked eye lashes, mink coats and the hard work that we both put into our projects. It felt good to be told that my work is important by such an accomplished woman. It's a wonderful thing when women life each other up. Luke sat beaming because he said he knew from the get go that Phaedra and I would hit it off.

 I really respect Phaedra Parks. She is educated, smart, fabulous and driven. Many women would have stopped after a law degree and a law practice. Not to mention the fame that comes from Real Housewives of Atlanta, but nooooo Phaedra has kept right on going and growing. She just completed her studies in Mortuary Science  and is currently preparing for her boards so she can practice as a mortician.

Wait!! She's preparing for her exams and on a tour for her new book Secrets of the Southern Belle and don't forget that she has a young child and a new baby. Now if that's not driven I don't know what is.

Watching reality TV we tend to get caught up in the drama and miss the person. Honestly, this is the first season that I have actually watched RHOA and I watched mainly because of Luke. I have gained an appreciation for the show as I watch this season. I see these women as hard working with real life ups and downs. A part of me thinks how brave are they to let people into their lives weekly. I know what its like to give people a glimpse of your life, I do it every day through blogging, speaking and Social Media, but to give millions a glimpse  you have to have some major balls. Especially in this era of bullying that I see in Social Media.

Well, Phadera and I had a blast bonding and I look forward to getting to know her even better in the future. Her next Chicago visit we are planning to spend more time bonding, talking, shopping and painting the town Diva.

I have already started reading her book Secrets of the Southern Belle and that review will be coming as soon as I'm finished. And you know, seeing her fabulous style up close I have already come up with some fab bracelet designs for her, well at least in my head and I can't wait to get to my bead board and hash out my ideas for some exclusive bracelets for this true Southern Belle.

I will have to tell you about the rest of my trip  to Atlanta on Monday because I'm dead tried, in bed resting and reading. Of course I'm reading  Secrets of the Southern Belle and counting down to Real Housewives tonight. Hope you all are tuning in with me! If you have never watched the Real Housewives of Atlanta tune into Bravo an hour early so you can play catch up!
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