Video: Expo West 2014 Profile — Baagua

What’s that stuff in my drink? Dried leaves from the front porch? Old grapes from the fridge? Something the cat dragged in?

None of the above. Try jujube dates, organic ginger, chrysanthemum and white peony root, to name a few.

That’s what you’re getting in the drink — and before your eyes — with Baagua, a new line of bottled tisanes. In the embedded video, which was filmed at Natural Products Expo West 2014, Baagua founder and CEO Dale Starnes said that the inclusion of whole-piece ingredients was “a happy accident.”

It started as a practice of efficiency. When Starnes would make tea for himself and whoever asked, he threw herbs on top of water and allowed them to steep and fall as he ran errands. When the herbs sank, the beverage was ready for consumption.

The visual effects of his homemade creations began generating some local buzz in Santa Fe, N.M., where he used to live.

“Everybody really loves seeing this wholesome effect,” Starnes said.

A grocery manager from a nearby Whole Foods store advised him to package and sell the teas. Starnes said he soon realized that packaging would be much easier in California, so he moved to Venice and began testing Baagua teas in Los Angeles stores. After this brief market introduction, Starnes said, Expo West served as the product’s formal launch.

Upon first glance, some folks want to strain the beverage, Starnes said. However, someone else is usually around to say otherwise.

As one might suspect from this atypical-looking product, Baagua elicits a range of reactions. The company’s website handles the main topic of discussion in a direct, but laconic fashion.

“The stuff inside is meant for nibbling / chewing if you really wanna, but you don’t gotta. Some people do.”

For all of the psychological and procedural education that could be required for mainstream consumers more accustomed to consistent textures, Baagua does have some positives going for it that could serve as effective selling points. All of the sediment is edible. However, if you leave the sediment in the jar, refill it with water and let it sit, you’ve got another batch of tea (albeit, likely not as strong) on the way. Also, even if you’re not familiar with an ingredient such as fleeceflower root, the name itself could be more comforting than, say, phosphoric acid. Baagua doesn’t contain any ingredients that might provoke a portentous WebMD search.

Either way, Starnes knows that this drink isn’t for everyone. That’s what you get for a drink with this look that sells for $3.79 to $4.29 per bottle. He’s now discovering how many people may be on his side.

“There are some folks that don’t like, you know, pulp in their orange juice,” Starnes said, “but I guess there are a lot of people that do.”