Kava Kava

The day of revealing shall see what it sees:
A seeing of facts, a sifting of rumors,
An insight won by the black sacred ʻawa,
A vision like that of a sacred god!

Traditional Kava Shell

What is Kava?
The name kava(-kava) is from Tongan and Marquesan; other names for kava include ʻawa (Hawaiʻi),ʻava (Samoa), yaqona (Fiji), sakau or malogu (parts of Vanuatu).

The roots of the plant are used to produce a drink with sedative, anesthetic, euphoriant, and entheogenic properties. Kava is consumed throughout the Pacific Ocean cultures of Polynesia, including Hawaii, Vanuatu, Melanesia and some parts of Micronesia for its sedating effects. Its active ingredients are called kavalactones. A Cochrane systematic review concluded it was likely to be effective at treating short-term anxiety.

The several cultivars of kava vary in concentrations of primary and secondary psychoactive alkaloids. The largest number are grown in the Republic of Vanuatu, and so it is recognized as the “home” of kava. Kava was historically grown only in the Pacific islands of Hawaii, Federated States of Micronesia, Vanuatu, Fiji, the Samoas and Tonga. Some is grown in the Solomon Islands since World War II, but most is imported. Kava is a cash crop in Vanuatu and Fiji.

The kava shrub thrives in loose, well-drained soils where plenty of air reaches the roots. It grows naturally where rainfall is plentiful (over 2,000 mm/yr). Ideal growing conditions are 70–95 °F (21–35 °C) and 70–100% relative humidity. Traditionally, plants are harvested around four years of age, as older plants have higher concentrations of kavalactones.

Noble and Non-Noble Kava 
Scholars make a distinction between the so-called “noble” and non-noble kava. The latter category comprises the so-called “tudei” (or “two-day”) kavas, medicinal kavas and wild kava. Traditionally, only noble kavas have been used for regular consumption due to their more favorable composition of kavalactones and other compounds that produce more pleasant effects and have lower potential for causing negative side-effects, such as nausea or “kava hangover”.

Kava Culture
Kava is used for medicinal, religious, political, cultural and social purposes throughout the Pacific. These cultures have a great respect for the plant and place a high importance on it. In Fiji, for example, a formal yaqona (kava) ceremony will often accompany important social, political, or religious functions, usually involving a ritual presentation of the bundled roots as a sevusevu (gift), and drinking of the yaqona itself. Due to the importance of kava in religious rituals and the seemingly (from the Western point of view) unhygienic preparation method, its consumption was discouraged or even banned by Christian missionaries.

Kapua Kava Bar, located in Fort Myers, Florida strives to honor centuries old traditions while also embracing a new and vibrant kava culture. As kava grows in popularity across our nation, Kapua Kava Bar will stay at the forefront of new and exciting ways to enjoy this traditional root, in our drinks and edibles.