Ever since I was a child, I have been drinking kava cold. Traditionally, as you may know, kava is prepared by soaking the fresh or dried root matter in cold water and straining out the plant matter when the water turns cloudy. As I got older, I began to experiment with many different ways of preparing kava – combining it with coconut milk, adding in honey and lime juice, even making kava smoothies with banana and cacao nibs, but I always thought I had to prepare these beverages cold to make them effective. It is widely published that kavalactones, the active alkaloids in kava, will break down at any heat beyond 140 degrees Fahrenheit, so I assumed that heating up my kava would make it ineffective. I have experimented with baking and cooking with kava before, but I usually found that, although the flavor might be quite nice, the effects were not anywhere near as strong as a cold cup of kava. So, I simply figured that kava had to be taken cold for any real effect. Therefore, I never really tried a hot cup of kava tea.
However, I recently ran across an absolutely fascinating blog article which says differently! The article, Boiling and Baking With Kava, suggests that kava can be gently heated to produce results that are equal to, if not STRONGER than cold kava! The author of the blog did a pretty impressive personal experiment in which he (or she?) experimented with a number of different methods of heating kava. You can read the full article for yourself (and I recommend that you do, it’s totally fascinating), but, long story short, it seems that the author discovered that if kava can be steeped in hot water OR boiled at temperatures of around 210-220 degrees for short periods of time (five minutes or so) to produce effects that were equal to those of cold kava preparations! Preparations which were heated longer than five minutes seemed to become bitter and lose strength (and, as I experienced, baking with kava – at least at high temperatures for long periods of time – seemed to remove strength as well).
The implications of this could be pretty amazing! This opens up quite a few new doors in the preparation of unique kava beverages. People often ask me if they can make hot kava kava tea, and up until now I would have said that heating the kava, even a little, would render it ineffective. Now, though, it seems that if one heats kava carefully, one can enjoy a delicious cup of hot kava tea, hot kava cocoa, or even hot kava mexican hot chocolate!
After reading this blog post, I was able to find a forum which references a book, ‘Kava: From Ethnology to Pharmacology”. I have not read the whole book as of yet, but it mentions the fact that some of the kavalactones in kava (of which there are quite a few) are more stable than others. Therefore, although heating kava may break down some of the active constituents, applying a short period of mild heat will probably have little to no negative effects on the strength of the beverage. One individual even mentioned that heating his kava a little bit seemed to increase the effects! Wow!
I was pretty excited about this whole revelation, so I decided that I had to try it out for myself. Honestly, the recipe I came up with is probably more appropriate for a cold winter’s day than the summer heat we’ve been enjoying here, but I just couldn’t wait to see if this really worked! So, I prepared my favorite Mexican Hot CocoChocolate recipe using kava!! It’s quick, easy, creamy and delicious, the cinnamon, cayenne and kava complement each other perfectly and are warming and wonderful, and best of all, the effects were just as strong as a normal bowl of cold kava! Plus, a kava tea high in warming spices and chocolate makes for a truly decadent experience! Check out the recipe and let me know what you think!
Mexican Hot CocoKavaChocolate
2.5 cups coconut milk, unsweetened
1/4 cup cacao powder
1/2 cup agave nectar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
4 tbsp kava
1/8 tsp chili powder
Pinch cayenne pepper
Pinch Himalayan Sea Salt
1. Put coconut milk, cacao powder, kava and agave nectar in a blender and blend until smooth.
2. Add in vanilla extract, cinnamon and chili powder.
3. Heat mixture in a saucepan over medium low heat until warm, about five minutes
4. Strain through a muslin bag, cheesecloth or other strainer (this step is optional, but I find it improves the texture a bit)
5. Top with whipped cream (optional) and dust the top with a tiny bit of cayenne pepper and himalayan sea salt. Enjoy!
This recipe makes 2 servings of kava.
If you have any new recipe ideas that involve gently heating kava to make kava kava tea, please leave a comment and let us know! If we include your recipe on our site, we will send you a free bag of kava! I’m excited to see what everyone comes up with.