Different ways of drinking kava and the art of “listening to the kava”

Today’s post looks at the different ways of preparing and drinking kava, as well as the art of listening to the kava. We start with a look at ways in which kava is consumed as a social lubricant, particularly in places like Tonga or Fiji and then look at the method of drinking stronger kava in a more contemplative, meditative manner, i.e. the practice of “listening to the kava”. 

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Best kava chasers

Few kava lovers drink it for its taste. Most people find kava to be quite bitter or even unpleasant. There are milder tasting kavas (e.g. some of our Hawaiian varieties or one or two Tongan kavas) and there are REALLY bitter kavas (e.g. the heavier kavas from Vanuatu). But in any case every kava can be a bit unpleasant. This is why many kava users try to find a way to mitigate the unpleasant tasting experience while still being able to enjoy the beautiful kava effects. Some people like mixing micronized or instant kavas with their favourite soft drink. This can be a very good solution for the beginners and those who want to drink only small amounts of kava. Those that want to have a longer kava session, feel that consuming a lot of sweet liquid masking the kava taste in itslef can get a bit unpleasant. These people prefer to use after kava chasers. 

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What is the right amount of kava?

People often ask us how much kava powder they  should be using per session. This is a really difficult question to answer. While the commonly published "maximum recommended daily dose of kavalactones" is 250mg, this is much less than the amount traditionally consumed. Why is there such a discrepency between the Western recommendations and the practices of kava's traditional consumers? In this post we will try to explain the rationale behind different kinds of recommendations and share our own perspective on the question of kava dosage. 

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The complex presence of kava in the Western World: A fascinating perspective of Dr Huffman

A couple of weeks ago we went to one of the Pacific islands that lost its kava culture 150 years ago with the arrival of the European missionaries. But while nobody drinks kava there today, we have good reasons to believe that their forests still have some of the ancient local cultivars and hence we wanted to try to find them. We weren't very successful (i.e. didn't manage to find the actual plants), but found people who might be able to assist us with future searches and/or even send us some samples. On the way back to Auckland I had a bit of time so I finally managed to read a series of articles by Kirk Huffman, a prominent anthropologist and a respected expert on kava's history, culture and modern use. Kirk presents a very interesting overview of kava's history and effects as well as a thought-provoking account of the developments that led to kava's increasing popularity and the so-called "ban" in Europe (now lifted).

I thought you might find some of his observations interesting, so I've collected a few longer quotes:

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