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, March 21, 2014

Ms. Chanel Part Two

 I pushed my Chanel handbag to the side and my toilet bath began. I tore off a good size piece of toilet paper and dipped it into the ice-cold toilet water. Then, I began to wash my body. I wiped off as much as I could from my behind, and then flushed the toilet paper. I pulled off another piece of toilet paper, dipped it in the ice-cold toilet water and repeated the procedure. Dip, wipe, flush, dip, over and over. After I’d gotten every single ounce of poop from one part of my body, I proceeded to the next until every trace was gone.

 As I sat on the toilet, wiping down the inside of my pants leg, I began to talk to God again. This time I asked, “Why? Why this? Why now?” I knew if I asked Him, sooner or later, He’d reveal his purpose. Maybe He wanted to remind me that a St. John suit is not my security blanket. Security is only in His arms and His love, no matter what the circumstances. Maybe it was to give me an incident, a situation that one day, at a future time I could use to inspire and encourage others. But this was not that day. After I finished cleaning myself, I dressed and washed my $150.00 LePerla panties in the toilet. I took some toilet paper, wrapped them neatly and placed them in the container next to the toilet.

I stepped out of that stall, walked to the sink and washed my hands. I took a long good look in the mirror, took a deep breath, reached into my Chanel and grabbed my make-up bag. I freshened my make-up. "Looking good," I thought. There were no outward signs of the assault that I had just gone through. I reached the bathroom door, turned the knob and walked out into the dining area.

With my head held high, I sashayed back to the table, still looking too cute in my black and white pinstriped St. John suit. My smile was sincere, because AIDS didn’t win. The diarrhea was a complete and vicious ambush. A total surprise, but it did not win. I’m not saying it didn’t hurt. It always hurts. But even though there were battle scars on my heart, and bruises on my ego, there was not one piece of poop on my St. John pantsuit or my beautiful black Chanel pumps. As I sat down in my booth and waited on my Five Nut Chocolate Brownie, a sense of joy swiped over me because I had not surrendered to the ugliness.

There have been many days in my life where I have had to hold my head high in the face of adversity. Yes, there were days that I was bloody, but over the years I learned to never bow. For me, it’s about how one maintains their dignity when their back is against the wall..... How you hold your head up, against the odds. Holding my head high was all I had that day. Beyond that, I couldn’t see any goodness in it. But God always has a way of using your pain for the goodness of others.

Post Script!

A year or so later, I told this story at a speaking engagement. That day, actress Sheryl Lee Ralph, also a speaker at the event, was inspired by my story. After the conference, she returned to Los Angeles and searched for other women who have been impacted by HIV/AIDS.

Sheryl placed these women’s voices center stage in a one woman show that she performs across the country. I am proud to be the anchor character, Ms. Chanel, in her one woman show, Sometimes I Cry, The Loves, Lives and Losses of Women Affected and Infected by HIV/AIDS.  Sheryl has literally touched the lives of thousands of people with her one woman show, while at the same time giving voice to women around the issue of HIV/AIDS.

Over these years Sheryl and I have forged a lasting friendship and partnership in our individual work around HIV/AIDS. I am proud to call her friend, and sister in this fight. Yes, this incident was a reminder that God always has a plan for our pain: God can turn your mess into a message. Our role is to stand tall in the midst of it all.  

I am also honored to be working on my own one woman show, The Politics of Respectability  based on my book. I'm honored  Sheryl Lee Ralph will produce me in this one woman show. 

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