The Birth of Whispering Pines


The Story

I spent most of my life in Pennsylvania, but it wasn’t until I moved to The Sleeping Bear Dunes in Northern Michigan that I truly bloomed as a person. I consider that move to be the most important decision I have ever made. I spent three years there learning and growing…essentially finding myself. Then I left in 2009 for college in Prescott, Arizona. After two years there I decided that college wasn’t my thing and I did the classic “American Dream” move and ran off to California...

On a fateful day in late summer, 2011, I was riding my bike back from my favorite park in Arroyo Grande. I happened to pass by freshly bloomed jasmine…my very first experience with that beautiful aroma. I stood there and took in the warm, sweetly intoxicating smell for a couple minutes and then finished my way back home. Later that evening I rode down to the corner health food store to pick up some almond milk. As I passed by the bulk herbs section, “Jasmine Green Tea” caught my eye. I thought, “Hey, maybe this is good?” and grabbed a little pouch to try. I made it home and brewed up my very first cup of loose leaf tea, which was actually my first real experience with tea.

The moment the water hit the leaves I was transported back to that jasmine patch. I wasn’t sure if it was the jasmine or the ability to transport me, but it was love at first sip. Over the next six months I emptied my bank account on every tea and herb they had on the shelf. I would taste a tea and every time it would bring me somewhere else…to a different place, emotion, or memory. I tasted a lapsang souchong and it brought me home to Michigan, gathered around a campfire sharing love and life with close friends. It was there…but not quite. I started adding in other ingredients until I found the perfect balance — tea that I could close my eyes and sip that would take me to the places I held most dear. Overcome with intense homesickness, I fell deep into nostalgia and the only thing I could do to get myself out was to blend tea that would take me home. I had to share, so I sent my teas to family and shared with friends for a few months. I loved seeing the way it transported them, especially after telling them of the inspiration for the tea. In March, 2012 I found myself registering Whispering Pines at the local business office. I walked out of the business office with $0.13 and a heart full of inspiration.

The Mission 

I didn’t know it at the time, but Whispering Pines would take me on the longest and most vital self-growth journey of my life. I would struggle to pay rent for the next three years and I would move half a dozen times before finally, in October 2015, I would have grown my business enough to afford to take that last step and move back home to The Sleeping Bear Dunes. It was a huge step, and ultimately the reason I was able to stay motivated for three years. Now that I’m home, I feel complete, but not fulfilled. My calling is to share these moments — these memories. Using the most natural ingredients available, my goal is to transport you to the moments and memories that move me. As a poem is the poetry of emotion, I strive for my teas to be the poetry of a moment captured in its deepest essence — a sip to transcend time and an experience to be interpreted through whichever line we have both lived. From nature to your cup: pure inspiration.

Here’s to the endless adventure of life. Sip slowly and enjoy.

From the Pines with Pride,
Brenden Gebhart
Owner and Tea Mixologist