Kava ‘Nother? The Story Behind Hawaii’s Herbal Drink

In Hawaii they have a saying about kava:

“One shell is good. Two is better. Three—it’s where you want to be.”

Kava (‘awa in Hawaiian) is an intoxicant formed from kava plant roots known for its anti-anxiety, anti-depressant, and stress relieving effects. Native only to the South Pacific, it is consumed primarily to relax without disrupting mental clarity. To prepare it properly, the maker will dry the root, grind it into a powder, and put the substance under water in a mesh fiber cloth. After about half an hour, the drink is ready. It is thought by many to taste horrible so current preparation of the beverage may include fruit juice. Other establishments sell it in a extract form, having their participants swig “shots” of kava, rather than endure the sips from the traditional coconut shell.

Kava is a legal intoxicant in the US, though driving after consumption can lead to DUI charges. It’s active ingredients are kavalactones which produce psychoactive (typically euphoric) effects, though the potency varies from plant to plant. After drinking your first shell, it is recommended to sit and wait 15-20 minutes before consuming your next. Effects can last anywhere from 2 to 8 hours so plan your “trip” accordingly.


Learn how to make your own cup of kava:

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