Preparing kava for the first time is an experience many people in the kava community never forget. Some choose to go the traditional route, which involves a hands-on process of squeezing and straining ground kava root. Others decide to mix a scoop of kava into their favorite beverage and create a kava concoction with their signature stamp. No matter which method they choose, people remember the ease and relaxation that follows that first sip of kava. The long history of kava preparation is rooted in deep cultural significance, and, now, present-day kava drinkers can experience that same “calm” through modern forms of preparing kava. Let’s explore the history of kava preparation and modern ways to prepare kava drinks so you can start relaxing—bula!
History of Kava Preparation
Kava has been integral to Pacific Island culture for centuries, and researchers trace the origins of kava drinking back at least 3,000 years. From ceremonial traditions to community bonding to medicinal use, preparing and drinking kava is at the heart of Islander heritage. Each island in the Pacific Islands has a distinctive approach to kava preparation and drinking, so the occasion, type of kava used, and preparation method vary from island to island.
One commonality between the different islands is each prepared kava in a large bowl called a kava bowl. Kava bowls went by different names depending on the island, but many Pacific Islanders in Fiji and Samoa call kava bowls “tanoas.” Tanoas range in sizes, styles, and materials, so every bowl is unique to the culture it comes from. For example, Fijian kava bowls are commonly made from Fijian Kauri or Vesi Wood, have five to six legs, and are decorated with shells and coconut husk cords called magimagi.
In traditional kava ceremonies, kava is often served to individuals participating in a kava ceremony in a cup made from half a coconut. These cups, known as bilos, were first passed to the highest-ranking individual in the group. Then the bilos were passed through the rest in descending order based on rank.
Towards the end of the 18th century, naturalist George Forester observed traditional kava preparation on one of the many islands in the Pacific Islands. He described it as follows: “the kava juice is extracted from the roots of a kind of pepper-tree. The roots are first made into pieces and then are chewed by people who later spew out the pulp into a bowl containing coconut or cold water. After this, the mix is filtered through the coconut fibers and then emptied into a separate bowl for consumption.”
Modern Kava Preparation
In the present, modern technology and tools have opened up new ways to prepare kava drinks. Depending on what type of kava you are preparing, you can use everything from a blender to a strainer bag to a quick stir of a spoon. Because kava powder usually doesn’t come in pre-measured doses as kava capsules do, you need to measure your kava dose for yourself. The amount of kava you measure out is based on how strong of a kava drink you want. The more powder you add to water or your drink of choice, the stronger the kava drink. Below we’ll lay out the ways to prepare kava drinks for different types of kava.
Kava Preparation for Each Form
Medium Grind Kava Preparation
Medium grind powder root can typically be prepared in two ways: the traditional way and the easy way. No matter which way you choose, you would add 2-4 tablespoons of medium grind kava to 8-12 ounces of water. You may increase or decrease the amount depending on the strength you prefer.
The traditional way of preparing kava is often compared to brewing tea. You place medium grind kava root powder in a straining bag, then steep it in a bowl of warm water for 10 minutes. After steeping, knead and squeeze the strainer bag to strain the liquid out of the bag into the bowl. When you’re finished kneading and squeezing, chill your kava in the refrigerator or add some ice before drinking.
For a quick, easy kava preparation method, simply add your medium grind kava and hot water into a blender. Blend on high for 4 minutes, empty and strain through a cloth strainer, then chill before drinking.
Micronized Kava Preparation
If you’re looking for a ready-to-drink kava experience, micronized kava is the way to go. Micronized kava, or finely ground kava, can easily be added to the beverage of your choice and stirred in for a quick, easy drink. Simply add one tablespoon of micronized kava to 4-8 ounces of the drink of your choice.
Kava Concentrate Preparation
If you’re new to kava, kava concentrate is a great match for you. Kava concentrate is a kava extract mixed with great tasting flavors for a delicious, relaxing drinking experience. Just dilute 1 oz. of kava concentrate with 5 oz of water to make a quick, tasty kava drink.
Custom Kava Preparation
We love how creative the kava community is, and many kava drinkers have innovated delicious kava recipes. From Coconut Hot Chocolate Kava to Guava Kava Colada, visit our Kalm with Kava recipes page to see how you can mix up your kava prep with tasty new ingredients.
Ready to Start Preparing Kava?
If you’re ready to start sipping on a cup of kava, shop our selection of kava products now. At Kalm with Kava, we sell a range of premium Noble kava that’s high quality and diverse to fit your relaxation needs. Buy kava today and start relaxing the island way!