People of Prominence – June 2024

Chad Morris is the founder and co-owner of Chad’s Chai. He has created myriad unique mixes for his own chai tea blends as well as a wide array of other teas that people have enjoyed for years in Winston-Salem. Chad spoke to Forsyth Woman as a local person of prominence and business owner. 

Where did you grow up?

I was born in Minnesota, but as a child, I lived in North Carolina, South Carolina and even Pennsylvania. A pivotal moment was when my family moved to Spain when I was seven. My parents were missionaries who wanted to serve overseas, and we lived in Valencia and, ultimately, in Barcelona. Both sets of grandparents lived in Winston-Salem, so I moved here after I finished high school.  

I then went to college in Georgia with hopes of being a church youth director and serving others in that capacity. I never had any notion of being a businessman or an owner. I’ve always been more interested in people. 

I always thought I would return to living abroad. I pursued a graduate school program in South Carolina and just figured I would be a mentor or leader of youth, potentially overseas.  

What were the early inclinations towards your line of business with tea?

During grad school, I had neighbors who had spent significant time in England where there is a large Indian population. My neighbors would make a huge pot of Indian-style chai and invite people over once a month. It was a beautiful communal occasion. I was hooked on chai and then decided I could create a blend using ingredients from a local Indian provision store – something of my own to share with others. Even to this day, it is our motto “Tea worth sharing.” Tea has always been about sharing for me.  

What was the real spark that ignited the business?

If we fast-forward to about 2003, I moved to Winston-Salem after graduation instead of going abroad. One of my great friends here was someone with whom I would hang out with Friday mornings and we would enjoy chai. We would sit, talk about all sorts of topics and “solve” the world’s problems. 

Eventually, he was planning his wedding, and he asked if I could help provide little satchels for guests filled with my chai blend. That’s really when I was forced to perfect my ratios of spices. During that time, we would also play poker with other friends where I met one of the original owners of the Irish pub known as Finnigan’s Wake. He wanted me to provide loose leaf teas to his place because it would be a great fit for the Irish fare. For the next seven months, as they were getting ready to open the restaurant, I worked tirelessly to create my first chai blends and to source other teas!   

It was a slow build in those first few years, but it eventually grew into us providing tea to many coffee shops, bakeries and other restaurants here, and even in other cities and states. 

Think back to the beginning of your business and what your vision was.

It has always been about community. For me, good tea was a by-product of fellowship. It has been something to savor and share in good times and in challenging times. I wanted my tea to bring people together. We started out connecting with people at Cobblestone Farmers Market and Black Mountain Chocolate, where we could promote our vision of tea worth sharing.  

What has made you most proud in terms of what you have built?

Once we designed this tea house here on Liberty Street, I could see how impressive it would be, but that was just a computerized rendering. Once it was completed and we held our first soft openings, I was overwhelmed by how it felt to see so many enjoying what we had wanted to offer to others. It was a place where people from all walks of life were going to gather and experience some respite.  

With all of your success, what pleasantly surprises you the most?

That we have built this and are serving so many on a daily basis. I like to say that I started this business just so I could enjoy great tea with friends. But, honestly, I am always a bit astounded that this has blossomed into so many others sharing this experience with me. I am constantly reliving my joy when someone else enjoys our products.

Who would you nominate as a person of prominence, and why have you chosen this person?

I would nominate someone like Danny Narvaez. Danny is a person who thinks about others and how to serve them well. He currently works at the Rescue Mission. He is working on going to an undisclosed country in Asia to work with the locals by creating a coffee house outreach to the needy, serving this population with provisions of food and clothing. I love his passion to help bring hope to the parts of society that many of us try to act like they do not exist. I love that his plan is to empower the people that live in a particular area to do the work of seeing this vision come alive.

Chad’s Chai

617 N. Liberty Street

Downtown Winston-Salem


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