Tea With Rae: An Introduction
By Rae Lewis-Thornton
December 17, 2010
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.
I was shocked to learn that they didn't own a television and spent their evenings reading. While I was in disbelief, (I mean, who doesn't own a television if they could afford one) in reality, I didn't watch much television either so reading was just fine with me. In the evenings, after dinner, my mother would put the tea kettle on and we would each grab a corner in the living room with a book in our lap and tea at our side. My mother drank her tea like the Brits with milk. I was straight up with just enough sugar that it sweetened but did not alter the flavor too much. It was a special time in my life. For one, it was the only time in my life that my mother was in a state of mind to have a healthy relationship with me. But it was an incredible joy for me to learn that my biological mother, who I had only known for months, shared my same two passions: tea and books. Each evening I would look forward to a wonderful cup of tea and a great book.
Over the years my love for tea has grown. I'm not sure if loving tea is one way I hold on to the joyful tea times I had each evening with my mother or not. But I can say, that it is a wonderful memory that I will always cherish.
Either way, tea always takes center stage in my life. I remember when I went to London years ago, Tea at Harrods was the first stop on my list. Yes it was fabulous and fancy, but I also got equal pleasure from drinking a wonderful blend of tea from my thermos and watching Shakespeare in the Park on a damp night. I swear I must have been British in my last life time. I spent my days sightseeing and stopping at every tea shop I encountered. When I came home guess what gifts I had for people? Yep, you guessed, tea and more tea. But of course I put the tea in a cute little Harrods tote.
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. I even boil my water in a top of the line kettle, a gift from my girlfriend Audrey.
Tea, like books, are a major part of my life. And just like with books, I find myself tweeting about it everyday. As a result, many of my followers started asking me questions about tea. If I didn't know the answer right then I went straight to the wonderful world wide web. Not only did I want the answer for them, but for myself also.
So here I go again with yet another venture just like with my RLTReads Book Club. (By the way, in less than a month we already have 106 people.) But starting today, I have dethroned Fashion Friday for Tea With Rae. Each Friday on my blog, I will explore 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 you all know how I roll, nothing I do is ever boring so be prepared to go on this journey with me. Mighty Leaf Tea is one of my followers on Twitter and they have already agreed to share their product with me so I can share with my readers. I will be working hard to get other companies who make tea and tea accessories to be a part of our wonderful journey. Hopefully I can even get some things to raffle off to my wonderful readers.
The fun starts today! I am having tea at the wonderful Peninsula Hotel as a guest of one of my Twitter followers, Lesa, who is in town visiting family. I will report all the wonderful details next Friday so stay tuned to hear about the fancy. I'm hoping that other hotels and tea establishments will allow me to experience their tea time to share with you.
I'm excited about my new journey! This January I will have lived with HIV for 28 years and AIDS for 20. I have spent the last 17 years sharing the most painful and private parts of my life as a way to help others. As I continue to live longer than anyone ever expected I want to share the joy that lives within. The joy that AIDS can never take away from me... Tea happens to be one of those joys.
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Rae Lewis-Thornton Speaks
Rae Lewis-Thornton is an Emmy Award-winning AIDS activist who rose to national acclaim when she told her story of living with AIDS in a cover story for Essence Magazine. She has lived with HIV for 27 years and AIDS for 19. Rae travels the country speaking and challenging stereotypes and myths about HIV/AIDS. She has a Master of Divinity degree and is currently working on her Ph.D. in Church History. Rae has been featured on Nightline, Dateline NBC, BET and The Oprah Winfrey Show, as well as in countless magazines and newspapers, including Emerge, Glamour, O, the Oprah Winfrey Magazine, Jet, Ebony, the Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune, to name a few. She earned the coveted Emmy Award for a first-person series on living With AIDS for Chicago's CBS News.
Rae is an active user of social media -- read "Long-Term HIV Survivor Discovers the Power of Twitter," an article on TheBody.com about Rae's social media activities.
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