Kava has been consumed traditionally in South Pacific Island cultures for many generations. The powder comes from the ground roots of the Piper methysticum plant – a member of the pepper family. The name is derived from the Latinised Greek word for “intoxicating pepper”. Compounds called kavalactones are responsible for the physiological and psychological effects which make this incredible elixir so special.
All Root & Pestle powders are pure, originate only from noble cultivars (to learn more about Noble Kava, click here), and are high in the kavalactones, kavain and dihydrokavain. Each cultivar has its own chemotype (chemical composition) which alters its effects profile. The effects also depend upon the person consuming it. Many people love all our noble kavas, while some people greatly prefer one cultivar over another, so if you’re after a different buzz, be sure to try them all.
What is the difference between traditional grind and instant kava powder?
These both originate from the exact same noble kava roots. Neither is “better” than the other, however, there are some major differences:
R&P traditional kava powder is the ground roots of premium kava plants; you still need to extract it yourself, which is easy but takes a bit of time. Many people enjoy the calming process of preparing it. It is silky-smooth to drink, and higher in DHK than our instant kava powders, which makes it ideal for calm chill-out sessions. Because the plant material is entirely strained out of the drink (if prepared properly), there is very little fibre to digest but there is also a little bit less bioavailability of the kavalactones. In other words, you’ll never get 100% of each of the compounds which give you that beautiful buzz out of the powder and into your shell, so there will always be a portion of “the goods” left behind. If you’re serving a group, traditional kava powder is perfect, and just needs a gentle swirl or a mild stir before each serving.
R&P instant kava powder is a dehydrated kava beverage. It takes only 15 seconds to prepare it and it produces the smoothest instant kava drink on the market, which is fantastic, but it’s not quite as smooth as a kava beverage made from our traditional grinds. R&P instant kava powder is always proportionately higher than traditional grinds in kavain (relative to the other kavalactones), and the bioavailability of the kavalactones is higher too, which means that euphoric rush tends to hit harder and faster with our instant kava.
Instant kava powder is a dehydrated kava beverage; All that needs to be done is to rehydrate it. A single serving is often around 15 grams (or 3 full teaspoons) of instant kava powder in about 300 mL (roughly a coffee mug) of water (juice or coconut water is ok too). This is one “shell” (half a coconut). It might be easier to drink if diluted, but if you prefer fewer shells to get the desired effect, you can make it stronger. Do a bit of experimentation to discover how strong you like it and how much to drink to get the kick you’re after.
Traditional kava You’ll need a high-quality strainer bag (available on our website) and a large mixing bowl. Around 35 grams (1/3 of a cup) of traditional kava powder to about 600 mL (2 cups) of water is common for one person, or around 250 grams of powder to 4 L of water for a small group. Some people like to add a splash of coconut water to the squeeze, which may alter the potency and flavour. You’ll have to test for yourself what you like best.
Put on sterile gloves, then carefully spoon the desired amount of kava powder into your strainer bag, fold the top over, and seal it up well. Pour the water into your bowl, submerge the strainer bag, and start kneading it, all whilst making sure the top stays folded over and never opens. Occasionally wring out the bag and keep squeezing it and shifting the kava powder around while it is submerged. You’ll want to be thorough and take your time with the squeezing to give the kavalactones enough opportunity to make their way into the water.
An alternative approach that some people enjoy is the Blender method, whereby the kava powder and water are mixed in a blender for a few minutes, then poured and squeezed through the strainer cloth into the bowl to remove the residual fibrous material. This tends to give good results in a shorter time, although many people prefer the taste and the action of hand squeezing their kava. Why don’t you give both methods a try and see which you prefer?
In either case, you can now open the bag and throw away the mukas (waste kava powder residue) although some people will get some more fresh water and do a second squeeze with the mukas, which will be a weaker batch. Used kava powder won’t keep for long once it’s been through the squeezing process, so you’ll want to do that second squeeze straight away or dispose of it.
Kavalactones tend to extract better into warmer water. 35 °C or so is often seen as ideal because it’s not too hot for your hands, yet it’s warm enough to get those kavalactones flowing out of the powder more freely. Many people find that drinking cold kava is quite nice though, so sometimes people will add a few ice cubes to the bowl after they’ve done their squeeze, or they’ll put it in the fridge for half an hour or so to cool it down.
Always give the bowl a gentle stir before serving every shell – kava consists of very fine particles in suspension which settle to the bottom of the bowl. It is generally preferable to distribute these evenly into each serving.
Chug it back! In Vanuatu, where your kava originates, it isn’t known for being sipped; People say, “Malok”, and then gulp down the whole serving. Afterwards, they give their mouth a rinse with a chaser (generally water, juice, or a fizzy drink of some kind, but a candy or a small piece of fruit is also common) – to cleanse the palate.
Wait 10 minutes or so before having another shell. This gives a bit of time to assess the effects and to decide if you’ve had enough. For many newer kava drinkers, 3 shells are about typical for a session.
Kava usually works best on an empty stomach and is traditionally consumed before the evening meal. You can drink it daily, but it may be prudent to take a day or 2 off each week, and to go a week without kava every few months or so.
Why doesn’t kava work for me?
Those who say, “I don’t feel the effects of kava”, frequently never gave it a proper chance.
Anecdotally, many people report inverse tolerance (or sensitisation) to kava. In other words, inexperienced users often report trying kava and experiencing nothing other than perhaps a little numbing of the tongue or tingling of the lips; It is not uncommon to hear that a person began to experience the full and acute psychoactive effects which immediately follow drinking kava only after they had already been consuming it on a regular basis for several consecutive weeks and had “primed their body” for it.
We don’t want you to miss out on this wonderous opportunity by giving up on kava before affording it the full chance to work. You deserve it, and you may be greatly rewarded for your patience and persistence.