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Demystifying Kava

January 17, 2012

I asked around the other day if anyone knew what Kava was.  The generous consensus was no.  In truth, it’s a humble Plant, having been revered forever by the people of the Islands for its Sedative properties.  When obtaining mainstream Kava often times, it’s packaged in its dried processed form–the dried root of the Kava Plant.  The OG’s will sometimes chew it directly– fresh, unfiltered and unflavored for increased stimulation.  It has an “intoxicating” effect and helps to soothe and relax.  It plays an integral role in the Tongan Culture and can lay the platform for one to begin Courtship or may be utilized for celebratory purposes (or as I directly experienced in Hawaii, for Funerals… (though in most recent years, it’s taken on massive popularity around the world and even in Tonga, it’s shed a lot of its use steeped in Tradition and is drunk more often and applied to many more social circumstances).  Traditionally, it is prepared by a beautiful young virgin aka a “touʻa.  Men are typically the only ones to drink Kava and these sessions can last up to 10 hours (sheesh)!  It’s a beige-sandy color, smells earthy, tastes muddy and when steeped, takes on a cloudy, milky color. 

Whenever I’ve prepared it, I’ve always been told to use one heaping tablespoon per cup of cold (filtered) water.  Some people believe that heat destroys its potency and traditionally, Tongan Kava is served cold in halved coconut shells immediately.  You can steep and massage the “pulp” for 5-15-30 minutes.  I usually do mine for about 15-20 minutes.  

The thing you’ll notice right away is the numbing sensation of your tongue and the back of your throat.  I like to take Kava especially when I’m sick with a sore throat.  It’s fantastic! (it contains properties that act as local topical anesthetic).  The faster your mouth goes numb, the stronger the prepared Kava is.  (Some people use up to 5 tablespoons of the stuff per cup).  I’ve known people to get violently ill so I wouldn’t recommend using that much, unless you’ve experienced Kava before.  Personally, I feel its effects within 20 min or so and it only lasts for about 1-2 hours for me then I’m back to pre-Kava mode.  Everyone will be effected differently by it. Just as with most things of this nature, you should be self aware and pace yourself, especially if it’s your first time.  I have absolutely no idea how it interacts with medication but I do know that too much = vomiting all night + sleeping the entire next day away, on the other hand, some people swear by it and refer to it as the ultimate natural Ambien.  Personally, I don’t notice a drastic change in my sleeping pattern at all.  Some people don’t mind the natural taste of Kava.  I find it to have a unique and pungent smell and have a strong taste.  The way I flavor it in the video really does make it take on the taste of Chocolate Milk a bit (and the Coffee helps to intensify the melted Chocolate).

Coconut Milk, Tropical Nectar’s, Spiced Syrups (Gingerbread, Pumpkin, Chai), Nutty Extracts—would all blend really nicely in this to make the whole experience much more fun and enjoyable.  Play around with it and have fun (just pleeeease don’t give it to your kids).  I worked as a Barista one Summer and this man would come in and buy his kid a double Latte 😦

I’m not sure how long Kava lasts.  Everyone I’ve asked (family, sales person, etc have told me different things) but I do know that drinking it after being prepared immediately is best but if you must, you can keep it in the fridge for up to 1 week, no more.
You want to look for pure and aged Kava ROOT Powder (4-5 years)
*the brand I purchased was strictly out of convenience–didn’t have much time to shop around* but a quick online search will bring you to the right source.

 

What you will need for 1 Gallon of Kava Drink

  • 16 heaping tablespoons of pure Kava Root Powder
  • 16 cups of cold, filtered Water
  • Fortified Cheesecloth, Nylon, Silk Screen, Tea Bag

For the Chocolate Syrup

  • 1 c Water
  • 1 c Sugar
  • 1 c Chocolate Chips
  • 1 tb Instant Coffee

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