There are numerous ways to prepare and enjoy kava. It is ingested most commonly in beverages pressed from freshly picked kava root, or in drinks that are mixed from ground, shredded or powdered root. The former is available only on the islands of the Pacific since fresh kava root does not transport well over great distances. The latter, anyone anywhere in the world can enjoy at any time. We’ve taken the time below to describe the basics of how to prepare kava kava in a traditional liquid brew.
When brewing kava or making a kava drink, you should use cold or lukewarm liquid – never use hot liquid because the high temperature destroys kava’s main active ingredients known as kavalactones; the psychoactive components of kava that provide the drink with its relaxing properties.
Extraction of these psychoactive compounds from the kava root is performed by leaching the root into liquid such as water or milk. Both work well for kava extractions, since the kavalactones leach into either fluid. However, the best liquid to draw out the active constituents of kava contain a healthy amount of fat – generally milk such as cow’s milk, goat’s milk, soy milk or coconut milk. Simply put, using a fluid containing fat is the best way to prepare kava extractions, in addition to making a delicious kava drink. It is highly suggested that you use organic milk of whatever type you prefer when possible.
The most simple Kava extraction is done with a water and to this you can add some fat to help out. The fat can come from adding one-third milk to the water, (whole, soy or coconut). Keep in mind that you can also use juice with a little fat added as your extraction liquid, such as pineapple or papaya or whatever juice you like the best.
Here’s how to make kava drink: take the kava – powdered, pressed, ground or shredded – put it in a strainer and place that in your beverage of choice and allow it to steep for several minutes minimum… the longer you let it brew, the better it will be. However, be careful not to use traditional tea strainers if you are using a powder; the wire mesh is not fine enough to hold in kava powder and it is very possible some will escape into your drink. Instead, use fine muslin bags which are reusable and better to strain the kava.
Once you let your kava preparation brew, you can squeeze all the liquid out of the semi-solidified material in your strainer and throw the mass away or put it in your compost.
While visitors to our site sometimes ask us how to make kava tea, traditional teas don’t work with kava because heat destroys kavalactones. This is the main reason why a kava preparation must be enjoyed cold after using a cold extraction method.
Powdered root works just fine, but make sure that any instant drink mix you may uses extracted kava and not just plain root; any kind of drink mix with plain root is worthless.
After your extraction process is completed, sit back, relax, and enjoy your creation at night, before going to sleep, while spending time with a loved one, or even at a party with your friends.
There is a great page that has just KAVA RECIPES, with informative answers to most questions you may have about how to brew kava and the different kava products available on the market today. There is also a blog written by the owner of a kava farm in Hawaii where you can always present your questions about kava and she will answer you – also check out her personal section of the blog where she shares interesting stories about kava use the world over – from her own personal experience to modern day kava ceremonies led by well-known kava proponents, from diplomats to athletes, to experiences of everyday people just like us.