The Kava Blog

Welcome to our blog!


We will use this space to post stories and articles about kava culture, science and various kava experiences. Feel free to contact us if you have any suggestions for new posts.


Disclaimer: The information provided on this website is not meant to be used to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. What we present here is the literature we are familiar with and our own experiences related to the consumption of kava as a traditional beverage. If you do suffer from an illness, take any medications, require treatment or health advice, or have any other health concerns, you should consult your qualified health professional whether you can safely use kava.

By The Kava Society, Mar 19 2015 03:08AM

Many people wonder whether there is any connection between the Kawakawa plant (Piper excelsum) and Kava (Piper methysticum). The two plants do not only have similar names, but also look similar. Is this just a coincidence or are the two plants related and their similar names tell us something about the Maori knowledge about kava?

Dr Vincent Lebot, the author of "Kava: The Pacific Elixir: The Definitive Guide to Its Ethnobotany, History, and Chemistry" (a truly excellent book) argues that in all likelihood the kava plant was known to the first settlers of Aotearoa. It is also possible that (just like the Polynesian migrants that settled in Hawaii) the Maori explorers brought some kava with them. Unfortunately, most of New Zealand is simply too cold for growing kava and hence the Maori settlers lost their connection to the sacred plant. However, some traces of the memories of kava drinking have survived.

According to Dr Lebot: "In New Zealand, where the climate is too cold for kava, the Maori gave the name kawa-kawa to another Piperaceae, M. excelsum, in memory of the kava plants they undoubtedly brought with them and unsuccessfully attempted to cultivate. The Maori word kawa also means "ceremonial protocol", recalling the stylized consumption of the drug typical of Polynesian societies".

Kawakawa is related to kava, but unlike its tropic cousin, it doesn't have the famous relaxing properties. However, it has traditionally been used for various medicinal and practical purposes. According to Te Papa Museum: "Kawakawa has been recorded as being used internally to tone the kidneys and help with stomach problems. Externally it was used for cuts, wounds, boils, abscesses, and nettle stings. It was also used for rheumatism and other aches and pains including toothache. When kawakawa is thrown on a campfire and burnt it reputedly keeps mosquitoes away."

Kawakawa leaves (source: Wikimedia Commons)

By The Kava Society, Jan 14 2015 08:53AM

According to some of the most respected kava scientisits and popular knowledge kava was first domesticated thousands of years ago on the islands of what we know today as The Republic of Vanuatu. Not surprisingly, Vanuatu until today boasts one of the most vibrant kava cultures in the world. The islands of Vanuatu are known not only for a great variety of different kava strains, but also for their famous kava rituals and practices. Vanuatu is also known as practically the only place in the South Pacific where kava is made from fresh (i.e. not dried) roots. As such, it has both a unique flavour and incredible potency. In late December some of us decided to travel there to learn more about the local kava scene and talk to some of the local kava drinkers, farmers and vendors. Below we publish a few of the key observations we made in between shells of fresh kava.

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