Faces of Long Island celebrates the uniqueness of everyday Long Islanders. In their own words, they tell us about their life experiences, challenges and triumphs. Newsday launched this social media journey into the human experience to shine a light on the diverse people of this wonderful place we call home.

‘My grandmother has always been my greatest inspiration.’

Kelly Zhou, Farmingdale

“I grew up in a village located in Fujian, a coastal province of China renowned for its unique oolong and jasmine teas. I was raised by my grandmother. My grandmother has always been my greatest inspiration. She was an avid supporter of education and would always prepare delicious desserts and tea for us to enjoy.

“My childhood was full of sweet moments spent with loved ones, especially with my grandmother’s cooking. As I learned about tea from her, I dreamed of opening a tea shop in her honor.

“As I grew older, my passion for tea only grew stronger. I began to experiment with different blends and flavors and spent countless hours researching the history and culture of tea.

“I moved to the United States after completing my education. I decided to pursue my dream of opening a tea shop. I wanted to create a space where people could come together and enjoy the beauty and complexity of tea.

My childhood was full of sweet moments spent with loved ones.

“With the restaurant business and technology knowledge I gained over the years, I opened my first Yaaas Tea location in Farmingdale. In just a few short months of launching, my tea shop has become a beloved community gathering place, where people come to connect, and enjoy all kinds of traditional teas, coffees and cakes. I have since introduced four additional Yaaas Tea locations across the island, with several more eagerly anticipated to launch this year.

“Just like my grandmother did for me when I was younger, I put the same level of care and dedication into creating the teas that Yaaas Tea offers.

“As a woman who has moved to America to chase her dreams, I completely understand the desire to inspire and encourage others to do the same.

“Remember to stay true to yourself. It’s important to remember where you came from and what makes you unique. Embrace your heritage, incorporate it into your daily life through food, music or traditions. Always remember that with hard work and passion, anything is possible if you set your mind to it.”

Interviewed by Starr Fuentes