The 4 different ways to make kava at home

Kava is an earthy drink made from the root of the pepper plant, Piper methysticum, found in the pacific islands. It’s popular for its relaxing, and social effects and has been used for centuries in cultural and religious ceremonies and for its many health benefits.

To make kava, the root is harvested and ground down into a fine powder that is then added to water to steep before being strained out, leaving just the earthy drink behind. Traditionally this also involved chewing the root to break it down, but we don’t do that here.

Kava comes in four common forms; Traditional grind, Kava Nectar (sometimes referred to as “instant” kava), micronized and extracts. Each of these names refers to how the kava is prepared.  No matter how you make it, the result will be similar. It just depends on how much time you have and how close to the tradition of kava you want to be. 

Traditional Grind Kava

At Kavahana, we like to brew kava the traditional way. This involves a multi-step process that includes using dried kava root. The plant is ground, steeped in hot water then strained leaving the earthy beverage behind. This is how it’s been prepared in the pacific islands for centuries and gives preparers a closer cultural experience that often goes hand-in-hand with drinking kava.

To make traditional kava, this it what you’ll do:

Gather your ingredients and tools. You need:

A fine woven bag to strain kava root (eg. Mesculin bag is recommended)

High-grade kava root

Warm water

Bowl to mix kava (medium to large is best)

Small cups to drink from

Kitchen scale (for measuring dose)

Measure kava dose. Recommendation is about 10grams (0.4 oz) of powdered kava

Measure out the kava then put it into a strainer bag, tie it off and place it in the bowl

Add warm-mildly hot water and let sit for 3-5 minutes. 

Mash! Here is where you want to massage or knead the bag. This helps get all the goodness out into the water. It should be looking like a chocolatey brown now. Do this for about 10 minutes.

Strain! Strain the kava by squeezing all the liquid from the bag. (You can get up to 3 steeps with one bag so don’t throw this away!)

Pour in your cup and Enjoy! 

Micronized Kava

This form of kava is a bit controversial; it’s a more affordable form of instant kava. This happens by grinding the kava root so fine that it’s easily mixed like instant kava powder would be. The process takes extra work, but it’s not nearly as labor intensive as making traditional kava.

The problem is that no matter how much kava root is ground down, there will always be a bit of residue and texture from the kava itself. Kava root is very tough and difficult to digest so this form of kava can cause some people to experience upset stomachs more than others. Even the best and most premium micronized kavas have this issue. 

It’s often an attractive form of kava for new kava drinkers because of the price point and convenience. But it’s gritty texture has been known to ruin first timer experience. We usually recommended that only experienced kava drinkers use this form of kava since they already know what to expect with drinking it and are used to the body and mind effects. 

Kava Extracts

Extracts are condensed forms of an herbal medicine. They are often found in liquid form to be added to drinks, water, or directly under the tongue. 

Pure kava extracts aren’t as common as drinking the However, they do provide an easy way to get the benefits of kava without needing to make and drink the beverage. Some are even flavored to help with the earthy taste of kava.

WARNING: Kava extracts can be found at your local health food store but be warned that many of these forms of kava are highly processed, and often have additives that we aren’t fans of. Like may foods and ingredients in supplement form, you need to be very careful of the quality and unexpected contamintation.  

Kava Nectar

For a less intensive preparation process, Kava Nectar is a great option. This form of kava uses an instant formula of kava that’s been extracted from dehydrated kava root.

All you need to make Kava Nectar is water or your favorite non-alcoholic beverage. It’s as simple as making instant hot chocolate. This form of kava is very smooth, and potent. You usually only need to use 30-50% of the amount you’d use to make traditional kava for the same effects.

No matter how you choose to make your kava, be sure you use the highest quality you can find. This will ensure you have a great experience all around.

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