Kava Recipes for Kava Drinks

As a kava drinker, pay attention to the variety you are enjoying and to the effect it is having on you. In some ways, learning to drink kava is like developing a discerning appreciation for wine. This is because, in addition to variations in taste and smell, the different combinations of kavalactones in the many strains of kava produce differences in experience, and some can be quite subtle.*

Traditional Preparation

Strain the dried kava powder in water. In Hawaii the strainer is often a nylon stocking, cheesecloth, one-gallon paint strainer, or muslin bags. Use 1 ounce of powder per person (2 tablespoons). Place the powder into the strainer bag, hold its edges together at the top with your hand so that none of the powder escapes.  Then, immerse the bag into a bowl of cool water. The amount of water will vary according to taste but a good rule of thumb is 1 ounce of powder to a pint of water. Use your hand to knead the kava under the water or bring the strainer out and squeeze then immerse it again in the water.

The kneading is the most critical step in the entire process!

The kava should feel oily at first which is due to kavalactone levels. Keep repeating this process until the kava in your strainer no longer feels oily. The water should take on the appearance of mud; the color of your kava brew may range from tan to dark brown depending on the varietal of kava used. If you wish, you can also add soy lethicin to your kava drink as an emulsifier to increase the extraction of kavalactones into your drink. That's it; you are finished!

A single serving of kava usually comes to about 4 ounces of prepared brew, so traditional kava recipes like the one above will yield multiple servings of kava. Unless you're intending to serve a large gathering, you'll probably end up with leftover kava. Luckily, kava can be kept fresh in the refrigerator for up to two weeks in a sealed container, such as a carafe with a lid.

If you really want to stretch your kava, you can also freeze kava drinks: simply measure your kava brew into individual servings and seal the liquid in freezer bags. Frozen kava lasts for up to three months. Whenever you desire a bowl of fresh kava, remove one of your individually bagged servings, run it through a blender to return it to its liquid state, and enjoy!

Traditionally, each serving of this prepared 'awa is swallowed in one or two quick gulps from a coconut shell and always with thoughts of giving thanks. It is a good idea to space serving at least 10 minutes apart as the kavain, the kavalactone highest in most Hawaiian 'awa varieties is usually felt quite soon after drinking, but other kavalactones effects may not register for 20 minutes or so. Drinking kava on an empty stomach may also reduce the time it takes to feel kava's effects. Kava is traditionally "chased" with a sweet or savory snack to cleanse the palette. In Hawaii, this led to the creation of the pupu platter, still a feature of many Hawaiian restaurants and resorts.

These days, the kneading has been replaced by the electric blender.  Approximately 2 tablespoons of kava and 8 oz (1 cup) water make for 1 serving of a drink. Simply add the kava and water in a blender for about 4 minutes. Pour mixture into a nylon sieve or cheese cloth, squeeze excess liquid into a bowl. Discard pulp and enjoy.

If you want a different variation with a little extra "kick", our family has a tradition of preparing our kava drinks with fresh yellow hibiscus mashed into a sort of "slime", which acts like lecithin and makes it into an emulsion giving the drink an extra kick.

Never boil kava when making beverages as it will decrease the strength of the drink! 

We'd be remiss if we didn't also mention a new kind of kava recipe made possible by our line of Instant Kava drinks. It's even easier these days to make kava that is truly instant: a drink with all the benefits of traditionally brewed kava, but that takes a fraction of the time to prepare with none of the mess. To prepare one of our Instant Kava drinks, simply mix 2 rounded teaspoons of powdered mix into 5 ounces (200 mL) of cold or cool water. That's it--no emulsification, straining, or steeping time needed!

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to cure, treat, diagnose, or prevent any disease.