Hello! My name is Alex, and I recently tried drinking kava for the first time to help me relax. Naturally unwinding at the end of the day is really important to me. As someone who works long hours on the computer, I value taking time away from the screen and finding natural ways to relieve stress from my mind and body. Instead of pouring a glass of wine after a stressful day at work, I usually sip on a cup of tea or do some light yoga. So when my friends suggested trying kava to relax, I was both curious and a little nervous about drinking kava for the first time.
Several of my friends are avid kava drinkers, and they reassured me that I had nothing to worry about. But, I was hesitant about how I would personally feel after drinking kava. I had heard that kava had a range of relaxation effects, from mood-boosting to gentle drowsiness, so I was unsure about how kava would make me feel. Despite my nerves, I decided to give it a try and embarked on a kava-drinking experience. Here’s how my journey went!
Buying the Best Kava
To really give kava a shot, I did some research on where to buy kava, if I could buy kava online, and what the best kava was for my relaxation needs. After comparing several of the top online retailers on the market, I decided to choose Kalm with Kava. I liked that they have some of the highest reviews on the market, directly source their kava from Pacific Island farmers, and have a variety of kava types to choose from.
What’s really convenient about Kalm with Kava is that they not only sell kava online but have sample packs so those new to kava can give different varieties a try. Because I was new to kava, I decided to purchase the Premium Kava Starter Pack. The company recommends this starter pack for those having trouble deciding which kava product is right for them. The pack includes the following items:
- 2 oz. jar of Micronized kava (1)
- 4 oz. variety of Medium Grind kava root (1)
- 2 oz. bottles of Kava Concentrate (2)
- Strainer to prepare kava brew (1)
When I received my starter pack, I couldn’t help but be impressed by the packaging. The bright colors and designs were really eye-catching, and the back of the containers included all of the instructions I needed to prepare kava. It was all very convenient! My starter pack came with Pouni Ono for the Medium Grind kava root variety, Melomelo for the Micronized kava, and Kavarita and Guava flavors for the Kava Concentrate.
Drinking Kava for the First Time: Medium Grind Kava Powder
For my first time drinking kava, I decided to try the Medium Grind Pouni Ono. Pouni Ono is a Tonga kava that’s described as “heady.” Heady kavas can make you feel happier and more content, and they’re often used for social relaxation. Opening the bag, I immediately smelled the kava’s pleasant, earthy aroma—it’s just as fresh as the site describes!
I didn’t want to try kava alone (I was so nervous!), so I invited my friend over to my house to join me. We decided to follow the instructions on the back of the Pouni Ono bag for how to prepare the kava the traditional way. The traditional way is like brewing tea, as the kava powder is placed in a straining bag and steeped in warm water. After it steeps, you knead the bag in the water, alternating between kneading and squeezing the bag to strain the liquid into the bowl.
We made the kava an hour before dinner, as Kalm with Kava recommends drinking kava on an empty stomach for the best effects. The company also recommended having a kava chaser—a small snack—ready to eat after the drink to avoid feeling a little nauseous after drinking on an empty stomach. We had a few squares of dark chocolate ready to go as our kava chaser.
When we first started prepping the kava, we made a bit of a mess. We had the strainer bag in the bowl and were kneading the bag, but we sloshed a lot of the liquid onto the counter and made little puddles everywhere. I might try making my kava in the sink next time, just in case! After steeping, kneading, and squeezing the kava bag, we ended up with a bowl of what looked like muddy water, just as described on the Kalm with Kava site.
This is where my friend and I went a little off the book and made Mistake #1. The kava bag says to chill kava before drinking it, as it makes it easier to go down. For whatever reason, we were a little impatient and decided to drink it hot. It was extremely bitter to sip on, and we wished we had followed the instructions and chilled our kava.
The strong earthy taste was a little overpowering, so we gulped down our kava as quickly as we could. We straight away followed up our drink with a bite of dark chocolate. This was Mistake #2. Because the kava was already bitter itself, following it up with a bitter kava chaser enhanced the bitter taste. We did our best to fix our mistake by eating some cashews, and those better complemented the kava taste.
I knew mouth-numbing happens when you drink kava, and I did feel it when I sipped my kava drink. Many people are scared of the mouth-numbing sensation, but I did not find it unpleasant or unnerving. It came and went within the hour, and it left no lasting impact on my taste or mouth.
It took my friend and me an hour to start feeling the effects of the Pouni Ono. It felt as though my mood was steadily brightening, like slowly turning up the switch on dimmer lights. It felt nice having the effects come on gently instead of all at once, so it felt very natural and enjoyable. My mood felt accentuated in a good way, like the kava was bringing out the brighter sides of my emotions. I felt very bubbly and happy, and my friend felt the same way.
We decided to go out and meet up with some other friends in town, and the entire night we were very sociable and relaxed, laughing and swapping stories with each other with ease. It was like a long, pleasant buzz that brought out the friendly, lively side of me. Unlike how some feel after drinking alcohol, I didn’t feel physically inhibited or sluggish—I felt pleasantly animated.
What was really nice about the kava effects was that it didn’t last for the whole night. After a few hours, the buzz slowly faded away. So by the time I had returned home after my night out, I didn’t feel like the kava effects were going to keep me up. I was still able to go to bed at my usual hour with no struggle of falling asleep.
Wrap Up: What are My Thoughts on Drinking Kava?
I would sum up my experience with kava as a positive one and full of future potential in my life. After finally getting to try kava and experiencing its effects, I can see how kava can fit into my normal routine and even enhance different parts of my relaxation and social practices. At the end of a long day or an intense workout, it’s nice knowing I have the option to brew a cup of kava instead of my usual mug of tea. The kava effects feel natural and gentle, so it’s reassuring that I have kava on hand if I have an especially stressful day. The Pouni Ono was a great complement for hanging out with my friends, helping me to loosen up and feel bubblier than usual. I think it would be fun to plan an evening with friends where they come over, we create a fun kava recipe together, and play board games for the evening and relax.
While I did have some snags in preparing and drinking my kava, it didn’t stop me from wanting to drink kava again. So others don’t make the same mistakes I did, here are my tips for others who are drinking kava for the first time:
- Follow the Instructions & Chill Your Kava – Like the instructions indicated, chilling kava after preparation eases the strong taste and makes it more pleasant to sip. Whether it’s ice cubes or 30 minutes in the fridge, definitely chill your kava if drinking it straight!
- Don’t Choose a Bitter Kava Chaser – Instead of picking dark chocolate as your kava chaser, try nuts, fruit, or some crackers. Having a kava chaser that isn’t bitter makes the kava drinking experience much more enjoyable.
- Try Your Kava in a Fun Kava Recipe – Because the natural taste of kava is very strong, first-time kava drinkers may want to try it in a chai tea latte or another type of fun beverage to get the same effects for an easier taste.
- Grab a Buddy – I had a wonderful time making kava with my friend and drinking kava for the first time together. We had fun trying this new experience as a team and feeling the relaxing kava effects at the same time. We made some great memories along the way.