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

Kava Kava TeaSo you’re trying the interesting and natural herb Kava for the first time. You’ve heard the big promises – drink kava and you’ll feel calmer and more mentally and physically relaxed relaxed, less stressed, less nervous, and sleep better. And now you want to put kava to the test.

Here are four steps to a great first-time kava drinking experience:

  1. Know your kava products and varieties
  2. Select the kava that’s best for you.
  3. Focus on how it makes you feel – not on how it tastes!
  4. Buy from a reputable vendor. Learn about us.

Know your Kava products and Kava varieties

Kava product types

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.

Ground Kava Root (Medium Grind Kava or Kava Tea)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. 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.

Instant KavaMicronized / 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, etc.

Kava Concentratekava extract concentrate drinkA kava concentrate is a flavored cordial made with kava extract. To make your kava drink you just dilute the concentrate by adding water. 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.

Browse Product Types

Kava Kava Tea Sample Pack - Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu Kava varieties

In addition to these different product types there are over 105 different varieties and these are grouped into two main categories of Kava: Noble Kava and Tudei Kava. These two main varieties are world’s apart and, when looking to try kava for the first time, it is important to know the difference between the two.

Tudei Kava has been linked to many unpleasant side effects including nausea and lethargy, which is why South Pacific Islanders have banned it in some countries. You should avoid buying Tudei kava varieties. Instead look to buy only high-quality products made with fresh and recently sourced, lab-tested Noble kava. Find a reputable vendor, (more on this below). Once you are confident you are buying lab-tested Noble kava then you need to select the kava that will best suit your needs.

Select the right kava for you

To select the kava that’s right for your needs, choose between heady, heavy and balanced kavas. Heady kavas make you feel more energetic and euphoric and are ideal for drinking during the day. Heavy Kavas are more likely to relax your muscles and body and make you feel tired and perhaps eventually sleepy. Heavy kavas are better suited for drinking in the evening. Balanced kavas fall in-between these two and are good to drink anytime.

We’ve made choosing what kava to buy real easy. Answer a few simply questions and our Product Selection Tool will reveal the best kava for your specific needs.

Find Out the Kava that’s Best for You

How Kava Tastes

Kava will make you feel great, but it doesn’t always taste great, especially when you drink it for the first time. Medium grind, traditionally prepared kava tea tastes very earthy – it’s kind of like dirt water. Even the people of Vanuatu and Fiji who have drank 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 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 to become numb. Some people enjoy this sensation while others dislike it. The numbness that is part of kava effects is normal and can last for a few minutes. It is the start of the relaxation process that will slowly seep through your body. And it is a sign that the kavalactone content in the kava you are drinking is strong, that the kava is high quality and the kava will have the desired effects. Read more about the benefits and effects of kava.

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 a bit warm and tingly all over. Muscle tension will start to release and you’ll start to feel as if your cares and worries are melting away. Eventually, you’ll start to feel calmer and happier, even a little euphoric.

How Long Do The Effects of Kava Last?

How long the effects of a drink of kava 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 will also depend on how many kava servings you consume in a kava drinking session. The more servings, the longer the effects will last. Learn more.

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 potency levels.  Drinking kava is a journey of discovery and you’ll soon establish your own kava preferences.

Find a reputable online kava vendor

Last but not least, remember that the benefits you derive from drinking kava will be directly related to the quality of the kava you buy. This will vary by vendor. When you are buying kava for the first time, we recommend you go to an online supplier with a strong, established reputation. Look for someone whose focus is on the quality of their products and not simply the lowest price. As with anything, you get what you pay for and quality comes at a price.

If you buy the lowest priced product you may run the risk of inadvertently purchasing and drinking a kava that might include Tudei varieties. Unfortunately, Tudei kava varieties still make their way into a higher percentage of kava sold in the U.S. Or you might end up buying 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. Do your research into kava vendors before purchasing by learning about them and reading testimonials and reviews.

T.K. Group Labs Certified Noble KavaWe at Kalm with Kava sell only lab-tested Noble Kava and we’re our proud of the strong reputation we’ve built within the kava community. In 2016 we were awarded vendor of the year by Kavasseur.


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.

Kava First TimeThe wrap on buying and trying kava for the first time

If the first time you buy and try kava, you follow these four steps, you are guaranteed to experience the many positive relaxation benefits this amazing natural herb can deliver.

Here’s hoping your first experience of drinking kava is a GREAT one!  Let’s us know in the comments below.



Kalm with Kava

Learn more about Kalm with Kava.


13 Responses

  1. Stephanie Snow
    | Reply

    I ordered kava tablets 500mg each. Its not a tea. Do they work as well?

    • Mike
      | Reply

      Hi Stephanie,
      In general kava tablets are not nearly as effective as traditional kava root or micronized/instant kava. In relation, tablets usually have 50-100 mg of total kavalactones while 1 serving of traditional or micronized will have 500mg or more of total kavalactones. Hope that helps!

  2. Soledad
    | Reply

    That is excellent information for someone new to kava. I had no idea where to start but think I’m prepared for this interstingly new experience now. Wish me luck!

  3. Jerry
    | Reply

    Hello Kalm, I have been trying out various forms of kava for about 6 weeks now (liquid, supplements, etc), and just came across your micronized kava. This is by far the most effective form I’ve found and I thank you for your products.

  4. rachel
    | Reply

    Try acupuncture too, it really helps detox your body and can help you sleep and relax.

  5. Dan
    | Reply

    Can Kava show up in a urine test when you take a standard drug test?

    • Mike
      | Reply

      Hi Dan,
      Great question that we get often. No, kava does not contain any properties that are similar to any controlled substance that is tested for in a normal drug test and will not cause a false positive result. We actually have quite a few customers who have had substance issues in the past and they find kava very helpful since it is a natural relaxant and also has effects to it that reduce cravings. Hope this helps!

  6. Judy
    | Reply

    I am trying Kava Kava for the very first. I have a severe case of PTSD and anxiety/panic attacks often(since 1975) I was on Clonazepam recently for about 5 years at a low dose .25 and when the dr, didn’t call in my usual refill and I couldn’t get in to her for 2 weeks, I thought that this would be a good thing instead. With our new government cracking down on drug addiction (which I’m all for), it leaves me in the ‘back seat’ to take care of myself. I am going cold turkey (not recommended) off these pills for about two weeks now and Kava is really helping me out. So at least for now, I’m really being helped and I wanted to write this in case anyone else is having the same issues. Thank you very much Kava!

    • Brian
      | Reply

      Hi Judy,
      Your story is interesting to me because my wife has been taking 50mg Zoloft (Sertraline) per day for about 12 years, and her doctor prescribed Endone eighteen months ago for the pain of facial neuralgia. She suffers from anxiety/panic attacks and insomnia. I bought a small bag of Kava, about 50g, (it looks similar to ground coriander) from a Fijian/Indian supermarket then googled to find instructions on the preparation which led me to this site.
      Are you still off the Clonazepam? Has the Kava continued to be helpful since you wrote your post here?
      I intend to try it first by myself in the next few days away from work so that I can reassure her of it’s calming effects. I doubt my wife will be able to suddenly stop the medication but may be able to taper the doses if Kava proves beneficial. Thank you.

      • Leigh
        | Reply

        Hi Brian, I also suffer from depression, anxiety, panic attacks and insomnia. I’ve tried just about every antidepressant and anti-anxiety medication and nothing has really helped with the intense panic and fear, except for kava. It has been such a blessing. I’ve been using it for about seven months now. It has helped me tapper down on my anxiety meds. I use the Borogu during the day and borongoru at night. Along with yogi soothing caramel bedtime tea and garden of life probiotics + mood. I know this is a late response, I wanted to offer some input and help if I can. I hope your wife is doing well.

  7. Jy Larson
    | Reply

    I am new to Kava, I have read a lot of reviews and because of a severe social anxiety disorder that is a result of ptsd, and chronic pain that has caused depression, I have looked in to many things. I have gone the chemical route with neurontin, and lyrics that both helped, but the danger of taking life long combined with the fact I had maxed out doses and withdrawing to try to reset my tolerance a bit became brutal. I turned to some natural things like tumeric, lavender, and valerian until I discovered a wonderful botanical known as kratom. I invested a lot of money trying to find the right strain and vendor, however the vendor has gone out of business and other vendors costs have become to much. So I started trying to find another plant with promise, and the number one thing I could find for anxiety, depression, and some pain relief is Kava, I can’t handle marijuana although I did recently order CBD, but still have yet to try it. Today I tried my first kava kava product, ground root waka kava, I couldn’t find out if it was noble or not, I did read that some names refer to what part of the plant is harvested, waka being the smaller roots towards the upper end having the higher concentration of kavalactones. I started with one bowl, I got the numb mouth but nothing else, so I made three more bowls over the next hour, after an eight hour work shift, completely empty stomach, had not eaten since the previous night. Still the effects were never felt, no warm rush, no euphoria, no pain relief, no relaxation, I mean nothing. I did more research and bought a special strainer bag, and added lectin to it, instead of squeezing it for 10 minutes to extract everything, I did it for almost 20 minutes, hoping I could better results. Still nothing. I realize it might be the strain, or the vendor. I have read and watched way to much to believe that it wouldn’t work. Is there any recommendations on getting samples, and preperation/extraction.

    • Mike
      | Reply

      Hey Jy,

      Glad to see you found kava as a potential option for your needs! The most important aspect for a great kava experience is quality product. No matter how you prepare it or additives you combine, it still won’t make low quality kava as effective as tested high quality root. As an example, many kava products available online or sold through health food shops have tested far lower in Kavalactone content (the stuff that makes it work 🙂 ) than vendors who source directly from the farm, freshly harvested root. Additionally, there could be associated unpleasant effects from Tudei adulteration (lethargy, nausea, etc) if it’s not certified Noble varieties.

      The best advice would be to purchase from a reputable vendor who specializes only in Noble Kava to ensure the best experience. Your preparation sounds good with 5-10 minutes of kneading being plenty – anything more than that really isn’t needed. Use hot water directly from the faucet (around 110-130 deg F) this ensures the optimal kavalactone extraction. You can then, chill the drink to make it more palatable without effecting the strength.
      If you want an easy to use product, go with micronized which takes all the question out of preparation – simply stir into any beverage and enjoy!

      With all that being said, reverse tolerance is a real thing that a small number of people new to kava experience. For a more in-depth explanation, there’s some great info here:

  8. Walter
    | Reply

    I am very curious

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