Trying Kava for the First Time? Here’s What to Expect

February 3, 2017

First Time to Kava

So you’ve discovered kava and want to try it for the first time? Kava truly is the most amazing, all-natural herb. It can help you feel calmer, more mentally and physically relaxed, less stressed, less nervous, and it can even help you sleep better. It has been drunk for centuries throughout the Pacific Islands on social occasions and drinking it is now part of the culture there.
 If you want your first time trying kava to be a great kava drinking experience, here’s what you need to know:

  1. The different kava products and varieties and their distinct effects
  2. How to select the kava that will be best for you and your needs.
  3. What to expect; how kava tastes, what you’ll feel, and for how long.
  4. The importance of buying from a reputable vendor. Learn about us.

1. Know Your Kava Products and Kava Varieties

There are many different types of kava products including ground kava root, micronized kava, kava concentrates, prepared kava drinks, kava teas and kava pills and each varies in strength or potency. Here’s a little information on each.

Medium Grind Kava Root – this is the most traditional type of kava you can buy. It’s kava root that has been ground, like coffee, and is prepared in the traditional way that uses a muslin cloth, involves steeping in water, kneading and straining to make a kava tea. The overall consensus is that traditionally prepared kava is where you’ll get your most bang for your buck – the full mind and body relaxation benefits of kava drinking.

Micronized / Instant Kava – Micronized Kava is kava that has been processed into a very fine, or micronized powder and is a more instant, concentrated form of kava. All you have to do to prepare your kava drink is measure out the desired serving size and stir directly into any beverage of your choice e.g. orange juice, almond milk, lemonade, or iced tea etc.

Kava Concentrate – A kava concentrate is a flavored cordial made with kava extract. To make your drink, just add water to the cordial. The ease of making a drink using concentrates combined with the fact they are often prepared to a lower potency, make concentrates ideal for first-time kava drinkers. Our concentrate was developed with the help of nutritionists and food scientists and comes in two flavors Kavarita (Lemon/Lime) and Guava.

Kava Varieties: Noble vs Tudei

In addition to these product types, there are over 103 varieties, grouped into two main categories: Noble Kava and Tudei Kava. When trying kava for the first time, it is important to know the difference between Noble Kava vs Tudei kava.

You should avoid buying Tudei Kava, (pronounced Two-Day,) as it is linked to unpleasant side effects including nausea and lethargy that can last up to two days. Export of Tudei kava has been banned in some South Pacific Island countries. Instead buy only high-quality products made with fresh and recently sourced, lab-tested, Noble kava. That’s what we sell!

Kava and Liver Toxicity

Anyone researching kava will soon see articles about how it is bad for your liver and health. These are based on a scientific study that was done many years ago that have since been refuted. Countries who banned kava are now lifting those bans. In general, the risk of drinking kava is overemphasized online. Find the facts about kava and liver toxicity and a more balanced perspective here.

2. Select the Kava That’s Best for You

First select whether you want a heady, heavy or balanced kava.

Heady kavas make you feel happier, more energetic and possibly euphoric. They are ideal for drinking during the day as they boost your mood and make you more sociable. Try our Tongan Pouni Ono or Samoa Ava kavas.

Heavy Kavas relax your muscles and body as well as your mind. They can make you feel tired, even sleepy and are best for drinking  in the evening. Our heavy varieties are Borongoru® and Melomelo from Vanuatu and Fijian Vula Waka.

Balanced kavas, like our Vanuatu Borogu and Fijian Loa Waka®, have an equal mix of heady and heavy effects and can be consumed anytime.

Our product descriptions tell you whether the variety is heady, heavy or balanced and what that variety is best for. To make it super easy to choose what kava to buy, we’ve also developed a Quick Selection tool. Answer a few questions and get recommendations for the product type and variety of kava to suit your needs.

3. Focus on How Kava Makes You Feel

To get the best effects from drinking, kava is best consumed on an empty stomach.

Here’s what to expect when you drink kava for the first time:

First, it’s common for your lips or tongue to experience a slight numbing sensation after the first couple of sips. Don’t worry. This numbness is normal and only lasts for a minute or two. It is a sign that the kavalactone content in the kava you are drinking is strong meaning it is high quality and will have the desired effects. And it is the start of the relaxation process that will slowly seep through your mind and body. Read more about the benefits and effects of kava.

How Kava Tastes

Kava will make you feel great, but it doesn’t always taste great, especially for first-time kava users. Medium grind, traditionally prepared kava tea tastes very earthy – it’s kind of like muddy water. Even the people of Vanuatu and Fiji who have drunk kava their entire lives don’t love the taste BUT, they love the way it makes them feel. The taste of micronized kava mixed with juice is an improvement over traditional kava and our kava concentrates taste best.

How Long Does Kava Take to Kick In?

This is a common question and not easy to answer. Ultimately, what you personally experience when drinking kava for the first time will depend on your body, how it reacts, and how much you drink etc. Give it 15-20 minutes, then you will begin to feel tensions slowly relax over your body. You should start to feel as is stress and worries are melting away as well. Eventually, you’ll start to feel calmer and happier, even a little euphoric; this feeling is why many people use kava for anxiety.

How Long Do The Effects of Kava Last?

How long the kava drink effects last will vary depending on the variety and strength of the kava you drink. In general, the euphoric and uplifting effects can be felt for anywhere between 1-3 hours while the stress relieving and relaxing effects can last longer, eventually making you feel sleepy. How long the effects last also depends on how many servings you consume in a session. The more servings, the stronger and longer the effects will last. 

Know that kava isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ type of herb. You may wish to experiment by trying different types of kava and changing the ratio of kava to water or other beverage to adjust kava dosage and potency levels. Drinking kava is a journey of discovery and you’ll soon establish your own kava root dosage preferences. Follow these five tips for the best kava drinking experience.

4. Find a Reputable Online Kava Vendor

When you are buying kava for the first time, we recommend you go to an online supplier with a strong, established reputation. Do your research into kava vendors before purchasing. Learn about how they source kava and read the customer testimonials and reviews of their products.

Quality Matters

Look for a vendor whose focus is on the quality of their products and not simply the lowest price. Ultimately, the benefits you derive from drinking kava will be directly related to the quality of the kava you buy. This will vary by vendor. As with anything, you get what you pay for and quality comes at a price.

If you buy the lowest priced product you could run the risk of inadvertently purchasing and drinking a kava that includes Tudei kava. Unfortunately, Tudei varieties still make their way into a high percentage of kava sold in the U.S. Or you might end up buying a cheap kava that is old and has been sitting in warehouses for months or years degrading in strength. These products won’t bring you the positive benefits you’re looking for.

We at Kalm with Kava sell only lab-tested Noble Kava and we are proud of the strong reputation we’ve built within the kava community. In 2016 we were awarded vendor of the year by Kavasseur.

5. Visit a Kava Bar Near You

Another way to buy and try kava for the first time is to find and visit your nearest kava bar. When you’ve tried and experienced kava in a fun, social environment, and got a taste for both kava and the kava culture, we’re sure you’ll want to shop online and buy some to drink at home.

The wrap on buying and trying kava for the first time

The first time you buy and try kava, follow the four steps above and you are sure to experience the many positive relaxation benefits of this amazing natural herb.

We hope your first experience of drinking kava is a GREAT one. Bula!

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