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

About Rae

Educated, attractive, assertive and ambitious are just a few of the words used to describe Rae Lewis-Thornton. In 1986, during a routine blood drive visit at a Washington D.C. Red Cross, Rae received news of another word that would soon be used to describe her health and future. At the tender age of 23, Rae Lewis-Thornton was diagnosed HIV Positive.

Despite her present day status of having full-blown AIDS (ACQUIRED Immune-deficiency Syndrome), Rae Lewis-Thornton leads her own unending crusade to educate and challenge young and old audiences to take control of their own bodies, futures and health. Rae uses her life as an example that AIDS is a non-discriminatory disease. She challenges the most common myths and stereotypes surrounding who and how one can become infected with the HIV virus that most often results in AIDS and death. In doing this, she incorporates her own oratory skills, personal experiences and unyielding honesty to create and disseminate her critical and deadly message of her own day by day, personal destruction by AIDS. 

Rae Lewis-Thornton is an Emmy Award winning AIDS Activist. She rose to national acclaim when she told her story of living with HIV/AIDS in a cover story to Essence Magazine. In the past 22 years, she has traveled worldwide in an unending crusade in the fight against HIV/AIDS. 

Rae Lewis-Thornton has been featured in countless magazines such as, Glamour, O-The Oprah Magazine, Woman’s Day, Essence, Jet, Ebony, Emerge, Black Excellence, Heart and Soul, WOE, Poz and The Crisis, as well as, many newspaper outlets, including The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-times, to name a few. She received her Emmy Award for an on-going series of first-person news reports on her life of Living With AIDS, for CBS-Chicago. She has been featured on national television and online shows including Huffington Post Live, TV One, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Nightline with Ted Kopel in a news article Rae’s Story, AIDS the next Wave and AIDS 25 years in review with Ted Kopel. She has also been on Dateline, Black Entertainment Television (BET), CNN and the Montel Williams Show and countless other news and radio shows around the world.

Prior to Rae’s motivational speaking career, she was on her way to a promising political organizing career. Having served as Senator Carol Mosley Braun’s 1992 Senatorial Campaign Advance Coordinator, Illinois State Youth Coordinator for the 1988 Dukakis Presidential Campaign and National Youth Director for Jesse Jackson’s 1984 and 1988 Presidential Campaigns, Rae was forced to retire in 1993 as a result of her health.

Rae has become a pioneer in using Social Media to educate and challenge stigma around HIV/AIDS and to promote issues around self-love. Her integrated use of Social Media has gained her national acclaim. She was featured on BET News, and in a cover story for the Chicago Tribune, which was picked up by the Associated Press on her savvy use of Social Media.
Rae has been asked to share her expertise in blogging and Social Media for Social Change. She has been asked twice to speak at BlogHer’s annual conference. In 2013 she was the closing keynote for HealthMinder and 2014 she was asked back to lead a Pathfinder, helping bloggers specifically blog for Social Change. She participated in Chicago Social Media Week on a panel with Chicago’s Commissioner of Health in 2012.  She was asked in 2014 to speak at Walgreens Corporate office around HIV education and the use of Social Media.

Her award winning blog Diva Living With AIDS has had unprecedented success. (http://www.raelewisthornton.com) In 2014 she was named Top Ten Social Makers in HIV/AIDS by ShareCare, Dr. Mehmet Oz’s interactive online health and wellness website. She won the CBS Most Valuable Blogger Award in Health and Wellness in 2010 and the Black WEBlog Award in Health and Wellness in 2012. Her blog receives approximately 50,000 views monthly, with over a million views in just three years.  Her blog is also syndicated on the Body.com, which is the largest HIV resource in the country, Poz Magazine.com one of the oldest HIV/AIDS Magazines in the country and BlackDocotrs.com. Rae also writes for ChicagoMoms.com about health and wellness.  Her brands include, Tea With Rae --Tea Reviews with over 20 Companies around the world participating. She launched a Twitter Book Club RLT Reads in 2010 with up to a 100 participants. Rae can be found educating on Twitter daily @RaeLT and in 2010 she won the British Academy of Golden Tweet Award in Public Service.
Rae launched a line of fashion bracelets, RLT Collection in 2009. Her handcrafted original designs can be seen on the wrist of celebrities, such as Sheryl Lee Ralph, Phaedra Parks from The Real Housewives of Atlanta, Kim Coles, Dionne Warwick, Jennifer Holliday, Santita Jackson, The Santita Jackson Show and Judge Greg Mathis. Her exclusive web-store is http://www.rltcollection.com

Rae Lewis-Thornton graduated Cum Laude from Northeastern Illinois University. She began her Masters in Political Science at the University of Illinois-Chicago, two classes from graduating; she developed full-blown AIDS and quit school because of her health. Ten years later, alive and moving forward in spite of AIDS, she attended McCormick Theological Seminary on a Merit Scholarship and earned a Master of Divinity Degree. She received the Author Hayes Fellowship in Church History from McCormick upon graduating. She worked on her PhD Student in Church History at the Lutheran School of Theology-Chicago. She is an ordained minster.

Rae has published two books, The Politics of Respectability and Amazing Grace Letters Along My Journey. She is currently editing her memoir; Unprotected which will be released March 7, 2015. She is also writing a one woman show that will be produced by actress Sheryl Lee Ralph. 

Rae Lewis-Thornton received the Distinguished Alumnae Award from her alma mater Northeastern Illinois University in 2011, as well as, countless other awards for her work around HIV/AIDS. In May 2012 she was asked by Mc Lyte to serve on the Advisory board for her Hip Hop Sisters Network. Rev. Rae Lewis-Thornton has lived with HIV for 31 years and AIDS for 22. She continues to use her life and story to enrich the lives of others.
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