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Trying Kava for the First Time

Here’s What to Expect

What to Expect Drinking Kava for the First Time

So, you’ve discovered kava and want to try it for the first time? Bula! Drinking kava for the first time is quite an unforgettable experience, and it can help you feel calmer, relax mentally and physically, ease sore muscles, feel less stressed, and sleep better. However, some people who try kava without the proper preparation often don’t enjoy their experience and never try it again. We want to help you have a wonderful experience drinking kava for the first time, so we shared our best advice for what to expect when having your first kava drinking experience. Whether you’re trying kava at home or sipping it in a kava bar, this information can help you savor the island vibes and enjoy ultimate relaxation.

Raw kava root in a traditional bowl

Kava Has a Distinct, Earthy Taste

Kava will help you feel great, but it doesn’t always taste great, especially for first-time kava users. Medium grind, traditionally prepared kava tastes very earthy and spicy at times. Frankly, it kind of tastes like muddy water! Even the people of Vanuatu and Fiji who have consumed kava their entire lives don’t love the taste, but they love the way it makes them feel. If you don’t want to sip on medium grind kava root prepared the traditional way, mixing micronized kava with juice or making a unique kava beverage recipe can be a way to improve the overall taste. Also, our kava concentrates tastes the best out of all the kava-drinking options, as they are flavored with delicious tastes like Guava and Iced Tea.

Kava Can Make Your Mouth Feel Tingly and Numb

If your lips or tongue experience a slight numbing sensation after the first couple of sips of kava, 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. This numbness is also the start of the relaxation process that will slowly seep through your mind and body.

Kava Causes a Range of Relaxation Effects

Kava doesn’t cause just one, singular feeling after you consume it. It can cause a range of effects that help promote mental and physiological relaxation. We’ve compiled just a few of the soothing effects that our customers have experienced after sipping kava.

Relaxation Effects
  • Eased anxiety, worries, and fears
  • Mental calm
  • Bubbliness
  • Euphoria
  • Increased sociability
  • Lifted mood
  • Ease in falling asleep
  • Quick workout recovery
  • Relaxed muscles
  • & so much more!

Each Variety You Try Will Cause Different Effects

There are hundreds of varieties of kava, each with a signature blend of kavalactones, the active ingredient in kava. These unique combinations of kavalactones produce different relaxation effects, but we can group these effects into three primary groups: heady, heavy, and balanced.

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. Examples of heady kavas we carry include our Pouni Ono and 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.

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 Kava Quick Selection Tool. Answer a few questions and get recommendations for the product type and variety of kava to suit your needs.

How You Prepare Your Kava Will Depend on the Product You Choose Preparation

There are many different types of kava products including ground kava root, micronized kava, kava concentrates, prepared kava drinks, kava teas, and more. Each varies in strength or potency, and each requires different methods of preparation before consumption. Here’s a little information on some of the most popular kava products we carry at Kalm with Kava and how to prepare them:

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 or nylon cloth, which 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 the most bang for your buck–the full mind and body relaxation benefits of kava drinking. You can also prepare medium grind kava root the easy way by blending it with warm water in a blender. Learn more about how to prepare medium grind kava the traditional way and the easy way.

Micronized 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 it directly into any beverage of your choice, e.g., orange juice, almond milk, lemonade, or iced tea.

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 Extract – Creating your own kava drink with NobleNano™ is a breeze! Using this kava extract is a delightful and simple way to savor kava’s goodness. Just mix 1 ml of NobleNano™ into any non-alcoholic drink you fancy. That’s all there is to it!

Instant Kava – Instant kava lives up to its name—it’s quick and easy to prepare. Just sprinkle 1/2 Tablespoon of instant kava into your favorite non-alcoholic drink, give it a chill or add some ice, and voilà— your refreshing kava drink is ready to enjoy!

Drink Kava on an Empty Stomach & Follow it with a Chaser

To get the best effects from drinking, kava is best consumed on an empty stomach. This is because, on an empty stomach, the active ingredients—kavalactones—can be absorbed efficiently. If you drink kava on an empty stomach and feel a little nauseous, you can follow your drink with a snack called a kava chaser. Because kava is bitter and earthy, it’s better to pick kava chasers that are lighter and sweeter in flavor, like fruit or nuts.

When the Relaxation Effects Kick in Will Vary

Ultimately, what you personally experience when drinking kava for the first time will depend on your body, how it reacts, 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 if stress and worries are melting away. Eventually, you’ll start to feel calmer and happier, even a little euphoric; this feeling is why many people use kava for anxiety. 

Man in a hammock holding a bag of Melomelo kava

How Long the Relaxation Effects Last Will Vary

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 beverages 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.

The Kava Vendor You Choose Matters

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. 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. 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!

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.

Shop Kava Products & Visit Kava FAQs

First time kava users: we hope your kava drinking experience is a GREAT one. If you’re ready to leap in bilo first and try kava today, shop our variety of kava products today. Have more questions about kava? Check out our kava FAQs. Bula!

Pouni Ono Kava in a Tanoa

Relax Your Mind & Body Naturally

Now that you’ve graduated from Kalm University, why not try some for yourself?