How to prepare Kavalava
The first thing to do is to make sure you are only buying the best noble kava and that it is pure waka (roots) with no stalk! Unfortunately, in Australia there is no testing of imported kava so make sure you are buying from a source you trust, like us!
Next, make sure you are using enough kavalava powder. A usual dose per person is around 10-15g of powder for a low dose, and 20-30g of powder for a high dose. A good, sweet spot to start with is one heaped tablespoon per person (about 10g).
Now choose your method from the three main ones below. Coconuts and Kurrajongs, recommends you drink your Kavalava the traditional way as we enjoy the ritual but no judgement if you prefer to use a shaker bottle or a blender!
- Traditional preparation with a strainer bag and bowl.
If you’re using kavalava for stress reduction, sleep promotion of spiritual exploration, we recommend this method. While some parts of the Pacific have different traditional styles, this method has been used for over a thousand years and the extra 10 or 15 minutes serves to put you in a present mindset. You will need a dedicated strainer bag (cheesecloth, socks, t-shirts or nylon stockings can work too), bowl, cups, and room temperature water.
Method: Measure your kavalava into the strainer bag to keep the hard fibres that can cause nausea and stomach discomfort out. Place strainer bag in your bowl and pour the room temperature water over - you want to add roughly 20 times as much water in milliliters as kava in grams. As kavalactones are not water-soluble you need to knead the powder by squeezing in the bag for a good 10-15 minutes for the kavalactone resin to get separated and suspended in water. The kava should look creamy. Squeeze the bag and remove. Serve your kava, remembering that it is important to mix the kava before each serving to make sure the sediments are evenly distributed.
- Shaker bottle and strainer ball
If you don’t have the time to mix and knead kavalava you may want a process that is quicker and more convenient. A shaker bottle, like one you use to mix protein powders at the gym with a special strainer ball to put the kava in will do the trick! You will need a strainer ball, shaker bottle & warm water.
Method: All you need to do is load the kavalava (5-15grams) into the strainer ball, add warm water (about 150-300ml), shake vigorously for 5 minutes. Remove the ball and then drink right away or cool in the fridge for later, but make sure you shake again before drinking as some kava sediment will have settled on the bottom.
A final way to prepare your Kavalava is to use a blender. This is the fastest way to make the strongest kava brew. Smaller blenders are better for single-serving portions. You will need a blender, strainer bag or muslin cloth, warm water, and some cups
Method: Once you’ve measured your kavalava add the powder straight into the blender and add room temperature or warm water (not boiling water). For 10 grams of kava, you’ll want to add about 200 mL of water. Blend for a minute or two and then pour the mix through a strainer bag and drink right away for chill for later.
Some useful things to know:
- Kava servings should be drunk quickly in order to prevent the sediments from settling down and also because it's not very pleasant to sip it slowly.
- Kava works best on an empty stomach so try not to eat anything for at least 3 or 4 hours. Nice to have some chasers in between kava shells/cups (e.g., a fresh kanamoce dried pineapple) to wash away the earthy kava taste and to consume a light, warm meal half an hour after your kava session.
- Water temperature does makes a difference. The colder the water, the less bitter taste but lower extraction of kavalactone.
- Kava is known for "reverse tolerance" so you may not feel its effects the first time. Useful to take kava for a few of days so its benefits can make themselves clear.
Across the Pacific, the preparation and consumption of kava is an important social occasion that that requires respect and ritual. While you may not get so elaborate, you can create a setting that will enhance your kava experience. At Coconuts and Kurrajongs, we love the late afternoon to relax and refresh ourselves with a few cups of kavalava.
On the weekend we have a regular kava session and invite friends to unwind and yarn, maybe drinking 4-6 bilo cups of kava over a period of one to two hours. Drinking kava like this is relaxing to the body and slightly stimulating to the mind, so don’t do this if you are drinking for sleep, just start with a small amount!
In high doses, kava has a mild euphoric high. In smaller doses kava is a powerful anxiolytic (alleviates anxiety) and stress-reducing herb.
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