Awa, Ava, and Other Kava Names: Get the Scoop!

August 2, 2022

Woman drinking kava looking at the topical scenery

Kava, kava kava, kava root, kava pepper. In the United States, these are the names most commonly associated with piper methysticum, the plant known for its amazing relaxation effects when consumed. But did you know there are other kava names that are just as, if not more, popular than the name “kava?” Below, we’re going to explore the origins of the name “kava” and other names given to this special plant.

Origins of the Name Kava

Piper mesthysticum is the genus name of kava, which is one of the many members of the Pepper family. Kava is the Tongan name for Piper methysticum and is the name most are familiar with in western culture. Derived from the Tongan and Marquesan languages, kava literally means “bitter”, reflecting the plant’s naturally sharp, earthy taste. In other languages, kava translates to “intoxicating pepper” due to its variety of kava effects. Every island in the Pacific Islands has a different name for kava and grows different varieties than other islands.

Other Kava Names (by Region)


Native to Fiji, kava grown on this beautiful island is one-of-a-kind in both its names and relaxation effects. One of the more common names for kava in Fiji is yaqona, which includes different variations on the spelling. Casually, kava is also called grog. Grog is served frequently in social settings in Fiji in a coconut cup called a bilo. The island’s rich, volcanic soil lends to the unique flavor and quality of Fijian kava, which is known for its robust calming effects.

Names for Kava in Fiji
  • Yaqona
  • Yagona
  • Yangona
  • Grog
Our Fijian Kavas
  • Loa Waka – Fijian Loa Waka is one of the strongest kavas we carry. In fact, it is one of the strongest on the market! It has powerful, all-around mind and body relaxation effects, so it’s great for drinking at any time of the day.
  • Just Kava Fijian Kava – This Fijian variety of Just Kava is smooth, light, and easy to drink. Fijian kavas are known for their drinkability and quick-acting relaxation effects. This kava variety will help you get through the day (or night) without the piney taste of many types of kavas.


Samoan kava is very special not only for its unique name but because of its scarcity. Kava, or ‘ava, is grown in very small quantities on Samoa and has limited varieties. It can be very tricky to access commercially, which is why we’re grateful that we’ve been able to source fresh Samoa ‘ava from the island for the kava community to enjoy.

Samoan Names for Kava
  • ‘Ava
  • ‘Ava pepper
  • ‘Ava root
Our Samoan Kavas
  • Samoa Ava Kava – We describe our Samoan kava blend of “balanced” and “heady” effects. This means that with this kava, you get a very upbeat, happiness-inducing experience with little to no sedation. It’s perfect for all-around, positive mind, social, and body effects.


As we said earlier, kava is largely a Tongan name and is the one Westerners are most familiar with. Kava harvested on Tonga is completely unique in the taste and relaxation effects it provides, which is why it is very popular in the kava community. For centuries, Tongans have sipped on kava for cultural ceremonies, medicinal purposes, and community bonding for centuries. As part of a traditional Tongan kava ceremony, kava root was cut into small pieces, chewed, and then spit into a kava bowl known as a kumete.

Tongan Names for Kava
  • Kava
  • Kava kava
  • Kava root
  • Kava pepper
Our Tongan Kavas
  • Pouni Ono – We consider Pouni Ono to be one of the best kavas around for socialization. Pouni Ono’s relaxation effects are “heady”, meaning it has more mental effects. The “heady” mental effects make Pouni Ono more energizing than sedative and stimulate feelings of euphoria. It’s great for helping you feel bubbly and excited for socializing.
  • Just Kava Tongan Kava – Tongan kava is one of the cleanest, easiest-to-drink kavas you’ll ever try. The smooth texture, palatable flavor, and fantastic effects of this Tongan variety of Just Kava are something every seasoned kava drinker looks for.


Vanuatu is the ancestral home of kava, known on the island as malok or malogu. There are over 80 varieties of kava grown across the rich landscape of Vanuatu. Vanuatu kava is often served in kava bars known as nakamals. In fact, Borogu malok is considered the “OG” or original kava, so it’s one of the most commonly served kavas in nakamals.

Vanuatu Names for Kava
  • Malok
  • Molok
  • Malogu
Our Vanuatu Kavas
  • Borogu – There’s a reason why Borogu is popular in Vanuatu! Borogu has a very high and unique blend of kavalactones, so it not only helps lift your mood naturally, but you can enjoy it in smaller or larger doses for different levels of potency. As a balanced kava, it’s perfect for all-around relaxation no matter the time of day.
  • Borongoru – Borongoru is excellent for stress relief and reducing feelings of anxiousness. It’s the heaviest kava we carry at Kalm with Kava, and we recommend it to anyone wanting a kava to use as a natural sleep aid. SIp on Borongoru for deep, full-body relaxation!
  • Melomelo – This Vanuatu kava is very aptly named: it’s mellow! As a moderately heavy kava, in smaller doses, it will help you gently ease anxious thoughts and stress without making you feel sedated. In larger servings, Melomelo is great to sip on to wind down at the end of the day or help you get a good night’s sleep.
  • Just Kava Vanuatu Kava – Vanuatu kavas are typically used to help with sleep and relaxation, and this kava variety is no different! Just Kava Vanuatu Kava is a strong kava that’s sure to please every kavasseur.


  • ‘Awa
  • Pū’awa


  • Seka

New Guinea

  • Wati


  • Sakau

Try Kava the Island Way

Now that you’ve learned the other kava names, it’s time to reward yourself with a bilo of your favorite variety. Whether you’re craving the upbeat effects of Pouni Ono kava or want to sink back and unwind with some Borongoru molok, we can meet all of your relaxation needs. Shop our range of 100% Noble kava products today and start relaxing the island way!

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