First Timers: What is kava like and what to expect

First Timers: What is kava like and what to expect

March 12, 2021

Kava Newbies: What to Expect

Kava is a relaxing and non-addictive beverage originating from the South Pacific. It’s made from the kava (Piper methysticum) plant and is deeply ingrained in the culture of the people out there. It has been used for centuries in activities ranging across social, political, ritual, and even medicinal purposes. The kava trend picked up in west in the early 2000’s, and it has been touted as the best natural anti-anxiety supplement available.

We also believe it is one of the best non-addictive ways to cap off your day of work. 🍹

Does Kava Really Work?

Yes. Kava definitely works. Otherwise all of Fiji would be living a centuries old lie.

Kava's effects are all dependent on how you consume it and how your unique body chemistry reacts to it. While many people turn to alcohol to unwind, Kava is a great way to unwind at the end of the day. Unlike most inebriates, it's all natural with no harmful side effects - all in moderation. Getting "kava wasted" is something you might've seen on Instagram but that decision is solely up to you if you choose to hop on that trend.

What is the difference between the types of kava.

As you've probably noticed there are a ton of different types of ways to take kava. They all come from the same plant (some are questionable) but are processed in entirely different ways. Kava powder and all of its constituents should be made from the roots and only the roots. This includes the basal and lateral parts of the root. Like coffee, kava needs to be ground down, brewed, and filtered before drinking it. (unless you're using our dehydrated juice, then we took care of that step for you).

There are a few types of kava and they should be differentiated from each other so we'll do the best we can below.

 

Traditional

Theres are your standard kava grinds and our dehydrated juice. Ground to be used or already brewed in the traditional styles with filtered water and a meshing bag of some sort. If you're looking to brew traditionally (which we HIGHLY recommend) check out our tutorial, or skip it with our dehydrated kava juice

 

Supplement

This category pertains to tinctures, pills/capsules, drink concentrates, high concentrate paste, as well as some other edible forms such as chocolates or candies. We usually recommend to stay away from these styles depending on how they're integrating the active ingredients into the product. Concentrates will usually utilize solvents to pull out the active ingredients, which quickly becomes a dangerous situation as these non-traditional processes tend to pull out cytotoxic constituents that are inherent in the roots. I wrote in depth about it here in "the dangers of kava extracts and liver hepatotoxicity"

 

Hybrid

I'm making this category because there is one style which does not fit into traditional or into supplement. I'm talking of course about micronized kava. Micronized kava is not instant kava, it is just regular kava root powder that is ground down finer than normal. You can think of it like course coffee grinds for your french press versus very fine grinds for your espresso machine.

We do not recommend to drink micronized kava due to possible cytotoxicity as well as digestive issues.

We will go more in depth into this later so stay tuned!

What kava blends are the best?

As you also learned, kava comes in a surprising amount of different blends. Some are very heady and light, like a stimulated euphoria, while others are very body sedating- like a mildly inebriated state from alcohol.

Our Raw Epicure blend is more heady while the connoisseur blend was designed to be a bit of balance between the both making it the best approach for people just getting into this world of kava.

If you grab one during the release of this video or blog post, you will be getting this batch (in the photo above) that contains chemotype 423516 and kavalactone 7.8%. In a later video, we’ll go into chemotypes. So keep in mind your experience may be different depending on the varietal's chemotype and strength/dosage.

In terms of the best kava blend, it depends on what you're looking for. If you're looking to get pain relief from a recent injury or relax your muscles between heavy lifting days, then i would recommend a blend that has a chemotype starting with a "2" which is high in di-hydrokavain, a body heavy kavalactone for a heavy body experience

Where Do I Buy it?

Make sure to grab your kava from a reputable source that sells noble grade and knows their kava's chemotype. We recommend to stay away from kava supplements in pill or tincture form as they are known in the community to be at fault for the kava scare back in the day (as mentioned above). There are cytotoxic constituents that are inherent in the kava root known as flavokavains. These are not water soluble, but the solvents that kava extracts use to pull the active ingredients out, also pull these cytotoxic flavokavains out.

These are lower in percentage the older the plant gets (ie, if the plant is noble), but it’s still an inherent risk. That is why we only recommend to consume kava brewed traditionally.

How To Brew it

If you’re starting with ground kava powder, we made a short video (link here) on how to brew kava to get the best bang for your buck. If you’re using our instant dehydrated juice, you can watch this shorter video here (link here), where we show you how to pour the powder into the water and stir, if you uhh... need a tutorial video for that.

I would assume you’re using our dehydrated juice, which was already pre-brewed with water. Because of this, you have the option to mix it with whatever juice or drink you like. This can minimize the taste profile of the root. I personally don’t mind it so I usually drink it straight with water. I recommend having a slice of fruit ready nearby to calm the bite of kava. Some of my favorites are a slice of pineapple or an orange. Something fresh and citrus is delicious for the palette.

If you're able to get a hold of one of our dehydrated kava blends then I would If this is the first time for you I would recommend to double the dose at 1 full tsp. There’s something known as a kava reverse tolerance that most people experience. As your body adjusts to the kava, you will eventually need less to get the same reaction.

Taste Expectations

You've probably heard the horror stories regarding "what does kava taste like"

"It tastes like MUD!"

"Imagine drinking a bowl of ganges river water"

"I gagged immediately and my eyes teared up"

The taste is not as bad as taking a shot of fireball whiskey imo, but still leaves much to be desired. It essentially smells what it tastes like: peppery, earthy, and muddy water which makes it hard to gulp down the first few times you do it.

Fortunately, I’m drinking, as I write this, our raw epicure blend, (my fave) which is made from fresh cut roots instead of dried kava found in the states. Since it’s NOT dried, the taste is less peppery and muddy with a slight grass sweetness from the root juice. If you’re drinking our Instant Connoisseur, it will have more of an earthy spice, not fully repugnant like some kava’s out there, but beware.

In terms of experience while tasting, the first thing you will notice is your lips and tongue may go numb as if you were at the dentist and got a shot of Novocain. You can get a strong experience by taking a small dab of powder with a finger and placing it on your tongue. This is normal so don't worry.

Mind Expectations: What to expect with kava

Kava effects are quite a broad range and are more specific to the chemotype of your kava in terms of what kind of effects you will experience

Everybody’s body is different and your body many react different than mine even if we're drinking the same blend (but more so if we're drinking different types of kava) so just kick back and relax. Although I am unfamiliar with either of them, I’ve been told many times the closest allusion to kava effects in relative to current culture, is it feels close to a dose valium or Xanax without the nasty ending withdrawals.

So what am I supposed to expect while with kava? Well first off, It takes somewhere between 10-20 minutes as the kava binds to your receptors. So don't expect it to be an instant knockout. It comes in waves.. gentle gentle waves..

The first feelings I recognize when drinking kava is usually the tension in the back of my neck starting to calm down and release. It feels like there was a knot that ist being massaged internally by the almighty Degei (the mythical creature who offered kava to the first humans, you can read more about it here)I tend to get tingly sensations similar to the feelings you get when giving a hug to someone you really love and being happy to see them. There are neurochemicals being released: dopamine and serotonin. It’s similar to that.

Then after some time passes you may start to feel a calm wave of euphoria slowly wash over you. Like you’re laying down head first on this beach and the waves are gracefully lapping at your head.

Unlike alcohol, there isn't a moment where you slam hit a wall and you’re kava drunk. It’s much more mellow. You CAN do that, but we don’t recommend it.

As time goes on and you mellow into your kava mood, you may start to get a sensitivity to light and your visual focus may be altered. Your blend may create a little heaviness in the body combined with that tingly feeling you experienced initially in the neck. To me the Raw Epicure will usually give that reaction- as if every few moments you’re going deeper and deeper.

If you're testing more highly sedative blends, especially ones including a higher percentage of lateral roots, drastic movement may induce a bit of nausea which almost feels like your mind is trying to keep up with your body’s movements.

How long does kava last?

Well it all depends again on a variety of factors, but the most noticeable buzz from the kava should last somewhere between 1 hour to 3 hours. These include how much you drank, the varietal you’re using, how strongly you brewed it, and also what you ate during the day. Some blends have only lasted 30 minutes for me (stupid tinctures), but other can last for 6+ hours. The actual anti-anxiety effects can last much longer and I've heard reports from supporters of it being 24 hours +.

Some Extra FAQ'S

I’ve seen IG Videos of people messed up on kava, will this happen to me?

Due to the long time dilation from drinking the root to feeling it's effect, people will continue to drink more and MORE. This is not uncommon. People tend to drink an amount that’s way over what is recommended over a short period of time and when it all hits at once, it becomes overwhelming. This is what is most likely happening in the videos

 

Should I drink kava after dinner?

You CAN. But you shouldn't. Our family farmers prayed for good harvests, pulled that massive 4 year old plant and its roots from the ground, cut them, skinned the bark, ground it, brewed it, then dehydrated it. And all for you to drink it right after eating?!

FOR SHAME.

I'm kidding of course, sort of. But if you didn't know yet, you're supposed to drink kava on an empty stomach due to the effects getting muddled in the food so make sure not to have it after a meal as it can cause an upset stomach, nausea, etc. Even worse if you eat higher inflammatory meals like pasta, lots of bread, potato chips with vegetable oils and such, the kava does not seem to bing to your receptors (at least that's what we've seen)

 

It's my first time! Anything I should do?


Congrats! Sit back and get comfortable. We highly recommend consumption in a comfy place like your living room where you can trust things aren’t going to change and you can enjoy the experience. I believe that physical surroundings are one of the most important and overlooked aspects of drinking kava. I've noticed personally too much extraneous distractions and physical movement can ruin the experience. It is my understanding that this is something most people who post videos regarding a “bad trip” on kava don’t take into consideration. They take far too much and stack the drinks too closely together because they aren’t immediately feeling anything. Most importantly, they consume in a chaotic environment such as parties or before walking into a club.

Kava is meant to be consumed in a relaxed space away from distractions. Therefore..

CHILLLL. Take it slow.. and easy (here's a youtube link to that great song)

I recommend for your first time to take it as a safe healing time to take care of yourself. Turn off the tv, put your phone on silent, pick up a book or put some light music on, and close your eyes.

So how much is too much?

World Health Organization recommends to only imbibe 300mg of kavalactones per day. This is the only standard out there, and in terms of our dehydrated juice this comes out to two drinks. But most people don’t follow, or aren't aware of this recommendation. This is why some kava bars may have a cup of kava that tests over double the recommended amount. Furthermore there are a lot of kava enthusiasts that drink far above this limit on a regular basis so take the recommendation with a grain of salt.

In Conclusion

Hopefully this helps you all as you start on your kava journey.

I still remember the first few times I was trying out the mysterious root. The bartenders weren't the best influence and I ended up nauseated hanging over a flower bed letting out my... well you know. I also left with way more questions than answers.

Last but not least, we are not medically trained physicians so everything here should not be substituted for medical advice. I’m just a big enthusiast of this fantastic root.

Let me know if you have any other questions or things I should add. I am a forever learner and am always looking for new recommendations or ways to experience this root.

From our family to yours, Mahalo! 🤙

Spread the Love of Kava! <3



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