Taking the South Pacific on a Virtual Tour of our Kava Processing Facility

Co-Founders of the Root of Happiness, Tyler and Travis, were invited to take many prominent kava industry figures on a behind the scenes to tour Root of Happiness' FDA registered, cGMP compliant kava processing facility. Since 2012, Root of Happiness has lead the way in its commitment to quality, FDA compliance, and analytical testing standards. In fact, we were the FIRST Kava company to publicly post Certificates of Analysis on each batch of our kava products. Our continued commitment to quality extends to educating the Kava industry from farmers, processors, and exporters, down to the enduser sipping shells at our kava bars about kava quality and the measures it takes to produce it.  Enjoy!

Micronesian Sakau - What is Sakau and what makes it different from other Kava?


Drinking Kava or "Sakau" as the locals call it, is a fundamental part of daily life in Pohnpei, Micronesia. In Vanuatu, Kava is simply called kava or malogo, in Fiji, its Yangona or Grog, in Samoa and Tahiti, its "Ava" and in Hawaii its "Awa". In Micronesia, kava is called "Sakau". But there are more differences between the kava drunk here than just the name. Read more below.

What is Sakau?

Sakau refers to both the plant as well as the herbal brew made from the roots of the kava kava plant that is strained through the bark of the sea hibiscus tree (hibiscus tiliaceus). In most other kava drinking cultures kava simply refers to kava roots and water. In Micronesia, however, it is difficult to imagine Sakau without the hibiscus component. "It's what makes our Sakau, Sakau," explains. Salpasr Ayuyu, a local kava drinker in Kolonia Pohnpei. "It adds its own body effect(s). to make (a) stronger drink with buzzing body."

What makes Sakau so strong?

Strong indeed. The Pohnpeans make notoriously strong kava beverages by adding very little water to freshly harvested kava roots to make the beverage. Pohnpeans very rarely consume powdered kava as fresh plants are always in supply. The freshly harvested roots are mashed into a pulp on a piece of flat basalt in a rhythmic fashion by a circle of eager Sakau drinkers. These stones are called lithophones and produce a bell like sound when struck. Kava pounders synchronize their rhythm and sometimes chant traditional Sakau songs throughout the process.

The pulp is then strained through freshly harvested Hibiscus bark which imparts its own unique effects to the Sakau. The bark of the hibiscus tree contains chemical constituents that have been found to be anti-inflammatory, analgesic (pain killing), anti-microbial, and has been utilized by many cultures to assist with fevers, pains, coughs, and for use during labor. Additionally, the mucilage has been shown to act as an emulsifier which both extracts the Kavalactones at a greater efficacy and increase the bioavailability once the beverage is consumed.

The resulting beverage is a very thick and strong kava beverage which is estimated to contain approximately 500mg of Kavalactones per serving. It was observed by Blallick et al., that the average male Sakau drinker would spend nearly 5 1/2 hours drinking over 8 servings of Sakau totally over 4,000mg of Kavalactones in a single sitting, making Pohnpeans are the heavy weight champions of the kava drinking world.

Varieties of Sakau

Micronesia has only two varieties of Kava, Rahmwanger and Rhamadel. Rahmwanger is a robust green seemed variety with spots while Rhamadel is smoother and a paler green with a fleshy softer stem. Rahmwanger accounts for 90% of the kava grown and drank in Micronesia while Rhamadel is reserved for special occasions or for drinking  by chiefs.  Micronesian Kava offers smooth flavors and a very heady buzz that is tough to beat.

Origins of Sakau

The paucity of varieties in Micronesia indicates that kava may be a more recent introduction than other kava drinking regions. Through genetic and morphological studies it has been determined that the Micronesian varieties were likely late introduction from the Admiralty Islands in Papua New Guinea, specifically Manus. It has been suggested that the Pohnpean term "Sakau" was derived from the Manus word "Kau" which is what they still call Kava today. Furthermore, aside from Micronesia, Manus is one of the only other kava drinking regions that pound fresh kava on basalt slabs. Taken together there is strong evidence to link Micronesian Kava culture to the Admiralty Islands and specifically to Manus.

We've worked very hard to contract Sakau farmers to grow the best Sakau that Micronesia can grow. Root of Happiness' commitment to quality included consulting with our partners to set up one of the only FDA registered food facilities in Pohnpei to process high quality kava in! We're also the only company in history to go through the rigorous process of obtaining a USDA import permit for Micronesian Kava exports. We're committed to bringing you the best Kava that Micronesia has to offer!

Our powdered Premium Micronesian Kava is produced from 4 year old premium Rahmwanger plants.

Our Fresh Frozen Rahmadel Kava is the extremely rare-to-find Rhameadel variety grown in Hawaii. This is truly the most exotic Kava variety to be offered anywhere.

9 Kava Health Benefits That May Surprise You

Kava, in its lengthy history, has been studied and found to be very beneficial to people all over the world. Drinking kava is associated with improving attitude, relaxing the body, and increasing mental clarity. Kava health benefits ranges from everyday improvement of mood, to easing stress and pain. 

These are a few of the more common known effects of drinking kava tea. Below are nine other unexpected kava health benefits that may surprise you.

Overview of Kava Health Benefits

There are many benefits of kava; this natural herb has a history of relieving tension and everyday stress. There are not many side effects, and helps to promote relaxation naturally. However, there are many unexpected kava health benefits as well that are less known. Here are 9 health benefits that you may not have known:

  • Helps with addiction
  • Can boost the immune system
  • Helps promote sleep
  • Flavokavains can help fight negative cells
  • Increases awareness
  • Boosts dopamine and GABA chemicals
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Acts as a diuretic 
  • Relieves aches

1. Recover from Addiction

Kava is a non-addictive substitute that offers the euphoric, mellowing effect those who abuse drugs are seeking. This may be why many are using kava as a replacement for alcohol and drugs.

They can get a high, but without all the disorientation, altered thoughts and bodily harm that drugs and alcohol can bring. Long-term use of drugs and alcohol can lead to liver and kidney damage, as well as heart disease, stroke and even death.

Kava has not been linked to any damages to either mental or physical health.

Kava Health Benefits | Root of Happiness

2. Fight Off Illnesses

When you catch the flu or other viruses that seem to go around and affect everyone you know, you feel miserable. And it seems like it takes weeks to truly heal. Kava can help.

One of the least well-known kava health benefits is the fact that it boosts the immune system. The immune system is what helps your body stave off the common cold and other illnesses that are contagious.

Kava helps build the immune system so that when you encounter bacteria or viruses, your body can do its job in destroying them rather than letting them attack your body.

3. No More Jet Lag

When you travel, especially across time zones, your body struggles to stay on a steady pattern of sleep. A lack of good, proper sleep can be damaging to mental and physical health.

Jet lag makes it hard to adjust back into a normal routine and this can make ordinary tasks seem impossible to complete.

Kava can be used to avoid the effects of jet lag and keep you on a regular sleep schedule. So, no matter where you are in the world, you can drink your tea and fall asleep on your terms, not the time zones’.

4. Helps Fight the “Big C”

Cancer is what some refer to as the “Big C”. Cancer is a devastating disease. There are many natural and alternative medicines that are known to help fight cancer cells. Some claim that one of them is kava.

The flavokavains in kava have shown to reduce growth of cancer cells in a variety of types of cancers. Some researchers claim flavokavains can restrict nutrients to tumors. Therefore, they are unable to grow and eventually may die.

Improves Memory | Root of Happiness

5. Improves Memory

Kava gives those who use it mental awareness and open mind while calming the body at the same time. This can happen because kava works on the parts of the brain such as the amygdala and the hippocampus.

These two parts of the brain make it possible for us to encode messages, store them in either short-term or long-term memory, and retrieve them when needed.

6. Helps You Handle Hot Flashes

Women who are experiencing menopausal symptoms can have mood swings and unwelcomed sweating at inappropriate times. These hot flashes can even occur in the middle of the night while you are sleeping.

Kava works with GABA chemicals in the brain and body. It also boosts dopamine chemicals. This means you are better able to handle negative, body changes that can happen. Changes through menopause or through hormonal issues are more easily tolerated when you use kava.

7. Ease Arthritis Pain

Arthritis can cause swelling and inflammation. These symptoms lead to stiffness and soreness that make it hard to move around. Arthritis prevents people from participating in ordinary tasks, as well as fun activities with family and friends.

Those who suffer from arthritis can attest to how painful it can be. Kava has analgesic properties that can ease this pain for several hours. This gives arthritis sufferers the opportunity to get involved and enjoy life.

Kava Leaves | Root of Happiness

8. Diuretic

Another one of the lesser-known kava health benefits is that it's a diuretic. Kava is an herb with diuretic properties. Meaning, it can help eliminate excess fluids in your body. Excess fluid may be due to blood pressure issues and infections. Drinking kava tea flushes your system and eliminates the excess.

This can be very helpful for those who suffer from urinary tract infections. Because kava is a diuretic, the infection in the bladder or urinary tract is flushed out.

Even if you are feeling bloated from eating the wrong foods or experience water retention of any kind, kava can offer some relief.

9. Eases Mouth Pain

If you have a tooth ache or pain anywhere in your mouth, consider drinking kava tea. When you first consume kava tea, it gives you a numbing sensation in your mouth, especially your tongue.

Kava is considered an anesthetic for this reason. If using kava tea bags, you can try soaking it in water and then putting the tea bag on other areas of your body that have pain.

Knowing the varied kava preparation methods can give you the best results for how you want to use kava. Temperature can make a difference when preparing kava tea. If brewed too hot, you can lose some of its effects.

Lukewarm water is typically the best.

If you are not a tea drinker, you can find other ways to prepare your kava. You can make smoothies, milkshakes, and juices. You can also purchase ready-made kava drinks for kava suppliers.

Kava can even be mixed in foods and candy. Just like any other herbs, kava is a product that can be useful in many forms. Soaps, soaks and cosmetics have been created by companies realizing the benefits of kava.

As kava’s popularity increases, we will likely learn of many more health benefits of using it. It will become an ingredient used in multiple products, from the cosmetic industry to foods to pet foods.

What is so great about this is that you have options when it comes to finding the best application method for you and your lifestyle.

There are many kava health benefits. By understanding it's benefits, you can see why it is becoming so popular. 

The Safety of Kava: Understanding Kava Drug Interactions

Kava has been used for centuries by people around the world without evidence of causing damage or producing harm to anyone. In fact, findings have been just the opposite.

Kava offers you a calm, relaxed physical state, while keeping the mind alert and aware. It does not cause hangovers, it is not addictive, and it is well known for helping people feel cheerful and in a good mood.

Many people who consume kava often ask about different kava drug interactions. They are curious if it is okay to mix kava with other substances such as alcohol and sedatives. 

In order to fully understand kava drug interactions, you have to be familiar with the different varieties of kava available. Noble kava is different from ignoble kava. Knowing the difference between the two is very important to avoid unpleasant consequences.

Noble vs. Non-Noble Kava

It is best to work with a supplier who can explain the difference in the two kavas, and ensure you are receiving the kava you intent to when you purchase.

Noble kava is extracted from the roots only of the piper methysticum plant. This type of kava gives you very positive effects.

Non-noble kava, also called tudei kava is extracted from the stems and leaves of the piper methysticum plant.

Tudei kava, or two-day kava, or tudei kava. No matter how you spell it, this type of kava offers a stronger, longer lasting effect compared to noble kava. Some users enjoy the longer, heavier effects while others fear it.

For approximately 48 hours, the effects of tudei kava make you feel overly sedated, followed by a few other results. If this is the variety of kava you are looking for, make sure you work with a reputable kava supplier who produces quality non-noble kava

Kava Drug Interactions When Mixing Kava | Root of Happiness

What Are Kava Drug Interactions?

When you ingest one substance and it affects how another substance works, that is considered a drug interaction. Some drug interactions can be negative and create further effects that harm your body.

Every substance, whether herbal, natural or synthetic, can create an interaction if used with the wrong substances.

If you are taking anti-depressants that boost serotonin in the brain and gut, and you take another medicine that also boosts serotonin, you may have a drug interaction that causes you to get too much serotonin. You are then more at risk to get serotonin syndrome.

Too much of a good thing can be damaging.

While kava has never been associated with deaths or negative effects on its own, there are some kava drug interactions, mostly synthetic, that can interfere with the positive effects of kava.

Alcohol and Kava

Alcohol can have many damaging effects. This substance can alter the brain, disturb judgment and thinking, and hamper speech and other body movements. It clouds the mind and makes it hard for a person to make good decisions.

When substantial amounts of alcohol are consumed in a brief period, it can lead to alcohol poisoning.

Alcohol is associated with memory loss because of its effects on the hippocampus region in the brain. Alcohol dehydrates the body, which may be one of the reasons for hangovers the day after drinking.

A hangover can include anything from a mild headache to nausea and vomiting.

Kava and alcohol are very different; kava produces the exact opposite effects of alcohol. Therefore, the kava drug interactions from combining the two is not a good idea. Mixing the two will confuse your brain and likely make you feel overly sedated, which can lead to risky behaviors and poor decisions.

This is probably why many people are using kava as a replacement for alcohol.

Sedatives and Kava

Kava is already a sedating, all-natural, herbal drink. When mixed with synthetic sedatives, you could reach a dangerous level of sleepiness that could lead to coma or worse.

Sedatives have been proven through hundreds of studies to negatively effect memory, movement, speech and decision making. There are many deaths relating to sedatives in the United States.

Kava provides the right amount of sedation, without all the negative effects synthetic sedatives produce. The kava drug interactions of mixing these two could be fatal. There are no known deaths relating to the use of kava by itself.

Brain Neurons | Root of Happiness

Dopamine and Kava

Dopamine consists of the feel-good chemicals found in the brain and the gut. There are legal medications, although still not good, that spike the dopamine levels in the body to help with pain relief. These medicines are highly addictive and create a false sense of happiness for a brief period.

Kava also spikes the dopamine chemicals, but on a slower and less intrusive manner. Kava, by itself, gives a person a sense of happiness and euphoria for hours.

If you mix kava and pain relievers, you would receive a dopamine spike that may feel good in the moment, but your brain can not reproduce this feeling on its own. This means where you once felt super happy, you will now feel super depressed.

The spike is good, the crash is terrible.

Using kava by itself is like a slow release, natural alternative. It does not trick your brain.

Other Drugs and Kava

Acetaminophen, like Tylenol, can potentially harm the liver if taken too much, for too long. 

The danger of combining acetaminophen and kava is the potential effects on your liver. And since kava is a natural pain reliever, there is no need to include acetaminophen.

Psychotropic drugs you may take for depression, anxiety or other mental illnesses can have serious side effects all by themselves. Some reports claim psychotropic drugs cause sweating, nausea, vomiting, and they can even increase the mental health symptoms.

Anesthesia can become even more dangerous when mixed with kava. You are already in a relaxed, sleep-like state. Kava would increase this and could further put you to sleep, with the potential of going into a coma.

There is no need to mix kava with any synthetic drugs. Not only because synthetic drugs have many side effects and unknown long-term effects, but because kava produces the positive affects you are seeking all by itself.

Kava drug interactions can be harmful. It's important to understand these interactions before combining kava with other substances. 

How Do Kava Farmers Cultivate the Kava Plant?

Before you know how farmers cultivate kava, it is important to know about the kava plant itself. Kava comes from the piper methysticum plant. This plant is only found in Oceana, or the Pacific Islands. 

Many people around the world are trying to grow kava from seed in their backyard or inside their homes, and some may be successful. However, they will never be able to match the soil quality, the humidity, the temperatures, the amount of rain and the cultivation process used by those in the Pacific.

There are many factors in play when growing kava. Here, we break down how the kava plant is grown and cultivated in the Pacific Islands.

How Kava is Grown

Cuttings from kava plants are taken and planted by farmers in other areas of the Pacific Islands. This must be done because a kava plant cannot reproduce on its own.

Some farmers find kava grows best on the side of a hill or in an area that is protected from intense winds. Kava is not necessarily a plant that likes to be alone. Meaning, it grows better when planted among other trees and plants.

Kava likes water, but it does not grow well in standing water. The soil needs to be able to drain the water properly. Once the kava plant gets older, it prefers a lot of sun. But this is not the case for younger kava plants.

The soil used to grow kava can mean the difference between a thriving, healthy plant and a plant filled with fungus and mold.

Without these things, obtaining cuttings for future reproduction would be worthless. Kava farmers in the Pacific Islands are very comfortable with this growing and cultivating process because the kava plant has been a large part of their culture for centuries. 

Because there are so many variable in this process, it can be difficult to grow your own kava.

How Kava Farmers Grow and Cultivate the Kava Plant | Root of Happiness

The Cuttings

Farmers in the Pacific Islands know exactly how to reproduce a kava plant. They know the right cuttings to create plants that will produce positive effects.

The cutting process in extremely detailed and steps must be followed. The cuttings must come from another kava plant. They also need to be soaked for a few months in wet moss until sprouts start appearing.

The sprouted cuttings are placed in pots until they are ready for transplanting into the ground. Farmers often move the cuttings from one pot to another until they are large enough to survive being transplanted in the ground.

When to Cultivate?

Because of the high demand for kava today, some farmers are cultivating the plant sooner than they should. They should be waiting at least 4 years to allow the plant to reach maturity of kavalactones.

Kavalactones are found in the plant and they determine the affects you experience when you drink kava tea. The more mature the plant, the better your experience.

What Parts of the Kava Plant Are Cultivated?

Farmers who care most about the history of the plant and who want to provide the best experience for you are the ones who cultivate the piper methysticum plant correctly.

The parts that are used in producing quality kava include the roots. Just the roots. This is where the strains with the best kavalactone percentages are found.

It has not been until the last decade that researchers are proving that kava is in fact still a great herb. Clearing up the false news of kava being dangerous is finally being confirmed and many people continue to benefit from drinking kava.

Kava Root | Root of Happiness

Noble vs Non-Noble Cultivars

Non-noble kava, is also known as tudei kava, two-day kava, or tudei kava. No matter how you spell it, this type of kava offers a stronger, longer lasting effect compared to noble kava. Some users enjoy the longer, heavier effects while others fear it.

For approximately 48 hours, you feel the strong effects of this non-noble kava variety.

Although this non-noble variety of the kava plant is much stronger than its noble counterpart, it should not be feared. Many kava drinkers are familiar with, and enjoy this variety of kava. 

As long as kava drinkers understand the different kavalactones and chemotypes, then they can fully understand the effects of each particular kava. The different order of kava chemotypes creates different effects for the user. For example, Vanuatu varieties of kava often begin with a "2", a "6", or a "5".  If you are looking to improve your mood, look for chemotypes of dihydrokavain ("2"), kavain ("4") and desmethoxyyangonin ("1"). These three chemotypes increase dopamine levels in the brain. Understanding your personal preferences, and the types of kava it takes to achieve your goals is extremely important.

The kavalactones in noble kava range between five and fifteen percent. Many drinkers of kava look for kavalactones in a similar range. They believe it's the perfect amount, you won’t have too little kava, unable to feel any effects. You also won’t have too much kava, giving you too much of an intense reaction.

Regardless of the type of kava plant cultivated, kava offers the desired effect of mellow relaxation of the physiological state while remaining clear headed.

Your Supplier- Farmer Connection

Farmers who have integrity in their growing practices also maintain their integrity by working with good suppliers. Good farmers make sure their suppliers have your interests in mind, and want you to experience the true positive effects of kava.

They do not want you to have a bad impression of kava because this is one of the main ways farmers make income to support their family.

When you choose a kava supplier, find out about their relationship with the farmers in the South Pacific. They are happy to tell you the who, what, when, why and where of the farmers they deal with.

Your supplier will not likely have just one farmer who supplies their kava. Because kava can vary from region to region, they will have multiple farmers supplying them with great products.

Hawaiian kava may be different than Fiji kava. Or, Vanuatu kava may be different than Pohnpei kava. Having multiple farmers as suppliers is not a bad trait of your supplier. In fact, it means they are working extra hard to help you experience the exact affects you desire.

7 Ways to Enjoy Kava Beverages Every Day of the Week

You work hard. All week long you complete your job duties, take care of your household chores, take care of the needs of your family and friends, and much more.

It’s no surprise you are exhausted. Drinking kava beverages is the one thing you look forward to. You know that soon after you drink it, your muscles will begin to relax, you will be clearer headed, and you will feel euphoric.

This is a much-needed break from the stressors of daily life.

Rather than just gulping down your kava tea and sitting on the couch watching television, try new ways to enjoy your kava beverages.

Below are seven ideas for you to try, one suggestion for each day of the week.

Monday: Soaking in a Warm Bath

Research has shown a warm bath has both physical and mental benefits such as improving moods, mending skin conditions, and ease pains in muscles and joints.

Soaking in a bath at your house is a terrific way to relax. But don’t just take a bath. Treat yourself to a spa-like soak. You deserve it.

Set the mood by turning down bright lights. Or, use candles for your lighting. Try using candles with soothing aromas. Turn on music. Not headbanging, loud music. Turn on soft music that makes your senses tell your brain to be mellow.

While setting the mood for your warm bath, drink your choice of kava beverages. Run your bath water at a temperature that feels soothing. Add bath salts or oils and then enjoy. While soaking, your kava tea will begin to work and add even more tranquility to your evening.

7 Ways to Enjoy Kava Beverages Every Day of the Week | Root of Happiness

Tuesday: Meditation

Meditation has been proven to improve concentration and help you clear your mind from worries. Overall, meditation helps you become more in-tuned with your mental and physical needs.

Each Tuesday, prepare your space for meditation. Pick a regular spot in your home that is uncluttered and comfortable. Turn off electronics that may distract you during your meditation.

Before beginning, take fifteen to twenty minutes to wind down. This is when you should drink your kava beverages. As you are sipping your tea, think about the purpose of your meditation, the positive goal you want to focus on. Release any negative emotions.

Kava before meditation will help you concentrate and continue to think positive thoughts.

Wednesday: Yoga

Yoga can improve breathing, metabolism, and energy. It can lengthen muscles and improve blood flow throughout the body.

Preparing for yoga is just as important as the practice of yoga. Staying hydrated, wearing comfortable clothes, and finding the right location are very important in preparing for a yoga session. Adding kava beverages to your pre-yoga activities can enhance the benefits you receive.

Many use kava when practicing yoga because the relaxation induced by kava can help you stretch your muscles farther. It can also increase your concentration on your respiratory functions and clear your mind, so you can complete your yoga routine.

Thursday: Kava Bar

The work week is almost over. Only one more day until the weekend begins. Rather than going straight home after work, stop by a kava lounge.

Kava bars and lounges are popping up around the globe and offering a nice retreat from ordinary hassles. If even for an hour or two, give yourself a much-deserved break from evening duties at home. Meet a few of your friends at the kava bar or make new friends.

Drinking kava beverages directly links to having an enjoyable time and being social. The kava experts at the bar will be able to help you find the right kava mixture for your desired effect.

Enjoying Kava With Friends | Root of Happiness

Friday: Night Out on the Town

The weekend has arrived. Go out and celebrate. Hit the town with friends. Your typical Friday night may include happy hour with friends, consuming alcohol. Then you grab a meal and later in the night you meet friends for more drinks.

This Friday, try drinking kava instead of alcohol. Kava effects can last for hours and will not give you the same buzz as alcohol. In fact, it is much better. You feel euphoric, calm and ready to socialize. What you don’t experience is impaired judgment, slurred speech and a fuzzy mind.

Alcohol and kava are completely different. Kava doesn’t even give you a hangover. This means you can start your Saturday off the right way.

Saturday: Getting Caught Up 

Saturdays are often dedicated to catching up on things that did not get done during the week. The laundry, cleaning, yard work and even paying bills.

These tasks don’t have to seem so boring. You no longer must dread the chores you are required to do to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

During your day, drink kava beverages. There are versions of kava tea that can energize you mentally and physically. It helps motivate you to get off the couch and complete the things you need to complete. And it can help you have a positive attitude while doing it.

Drinking kava on Saturday can even make that occasional uninvited guest who drops in unannounced seem okay.

Sunday: Family Get Together With Kava Beverages

Getting together with family is great. And it usually happens on Sundays around lunch time. All of you gather together for a meal and to check in on each other. Sometimes these check-ins can lead to bickering. And other times it can lead to feuds.

Avoid the feuds this Sunday by drinking kava beverages before you meet with family. While you are helping make lunch, setting the table, serving the meal or hiding out in the bathroom, drink kava.

Before you know it, you will be ready to socialize with all your parents, siblings and any extended family attending the get together.

You can enjoy drinking kava beverages every day of the week. These are just seven ways to enjoy kava. Think of all the activities you take part in each day. Think of the ones you want to enhance. Then, prepare your kava, drink it, and enjoy. Reward yourself by drinking kava.

Strong Kava Tea Recipe Preparation

A smooth, creamy milkshake. A cold fizzy soda. Fresh fruit juice. Fresh fruit smoothie, chai tea, or latte.

You may not ever associate these delicious treats with kava, but guess what? The days of pinching your nose, chugging down your kava mixture and chasing it with a lemon or pineapple are over. Here are seven ways to prepare a strong kava tea recipe that you'll actually enjoy.

Kava can be purchased in a variety of forms to make it easy for you to blend with your favorite additives.

Below are nine ways you can prepare a kava tea recipe to your liking. With these recipes, you'll finally get to fully enjoy your kava experience.

Kava Shake

Chowhound offers a recipe for making a kava milkshake that sounds so sweet and kind of like a slushy. You know those awesome, semi-icy, semi-shake drinks you can get at convenience stores? Yes, those are the ones.

By mixing kava, water, coconut milk, cocoa powder, sugar and ice, you can have one of these treats in your home. This kava tea recipe is incredibly simple, and involves objects commonly found in your kitchen!

Kava Smoothie

Find yourself missing the beach? Or do you just love tropical fruit everything, from candy to drinks? Then you are in luck. This kava tea recipe makes it feel as if you're on vacation!

Mixing kava with bananas, pineapples and orange juice, you are on your way to a kava tropical smoothie. Add milk and ice, blend and enjoy.

Kava Tea Recipe: Spiced Chai | Root of Happiness

Kava Spiced Chai

Just reading the ingredients makes you feel a little more relaxed. In a pot, boil water, kava, cloves, cinnamon, ginger and any other spices you love. Strain this hot mixture to get rid of any leafy pieces.

Then, add the strained mixture to hot milk. Sip and wait for sweet relaxation.

This kava tea recipe can get even easier by using instant chai. Mix your kava and instant chai, and you have a kava spiced chai!

Kava Kool-Aid

Take a trip down memory lane with your favorite Kool-Aid flavor in this kava tea recipe. Only, prepare for adult calming effects. It’s the best of both worlds.

You can use Kool-Aid mixes or go for the frozen fruit juices to mix with water, ginger and instant kava. Mix well and share with your friends.

Sparkling Kava

Love sparkling water? Want to love it more? Try this sparkling kava tea recipe. Using oranges and lemons, maple syrup, ice and of course, instant kava, you can create a fizzy drink that makes you tingle.

Okay, so the tingling may be causes specifically by the kava that creates a numbing effect on your tongue to let you know its working. It also tells you good vibes are headed your way, soon.

Sparkling Kava | Root of Happiness

Kava Chocolates

Okay, so this is not a drink. But once you have these kava chocolate diamonds you won’t even be thinking about thirst.

A spin on the traditional chocolate candies, this is one of the easiest treats to make. Mix chocolate, nuts and kava. Pour into molds, miniature cupcake holders or just wing it with some parchment paper. Put them in the fridge until hardened.

Another twist is to add caramel to the mix and turn them into kava turtles.

Original Kava Tea Recipe

You may be the type who wants to experience kava in its most original form, even if the taste is bad. You are not alone. Many prefer to drink kava without masking its flavor.

Unless you are currently in the Pacific Islands with access to the roots of the piper methysticum plant, you will need to purchase noble kava root powder.

This powder comes directly from the kava root plant. However, it has been pounded and crushed before packaging it and shipping it to you. This keeps it fresh for exporting it around the world.

The process involves mixing kava powder with water in a kava strainer. Use your hands to knead the mixture, combining the water and the kava. The liquid created from mixing the kava and water is strained into a separate bowl. The strained liquid is what you will drink.

Why Kava Can be Mixed

Kava is an herb. And just like any other herb, it can be mixed with any other product. When added, the taste of the product doesn’t change as much as the effects do. You can take a regular orange juice that gives you no effects and turn it into a kava orange juice that mellows you out while keeping you mentally clear.

Kava has no known negative effects, holding true for over three thousand years. You do not even need to worry about after effects since kava has not shown to give a person hangover symptoms.

Effects to Expect

Kava, mixed with any other ingredients, can have positive effects. Depending on the type of kava you purchase, you may experience relaxation, easing of tensions in your muscles, hyper-awareness, and a feeling of wanting to socialize with others.

Other varieties of kava can create a greater effect of sedation, while some give users energy. The best way to determine the effect you will receive is to work with a good kava supplier.

Kava Suppliers

A good kava supplier can offer you a range of kava products. They can help you pick out kava in its most original form. They can also educate you on how kava can vary from the region in which it was harvested, how it was harvested, and how it was exported for you to enjoy.

You also want to know you are getting the right dose, not too high and not too low, for the affects you desire.

Good kava suppliers offer a wide variety of products for you to try, including many of the recipes listed here.

While kava powder is the most popular product, manufacturers have found creative ways to process and sell kava. 

Kava drinks that are pre-made and sold in liquid form are also available. Kava paste is another product that is rising in popularity. The thick paste form gives you a higher concentration in a much smaller dose.

Whatever kava mixture you desire, it is likely available. To make sure you get the right results, work with a supplier who is a member of the American Kava Association.

They will be happy to help you reach your kava goals.

Now that you know seven ways to prepare your favorite kava tea recipe, you can enjoy your kava in many different ways. BULA!

Understanding Micronesia Culture and Sakau

Sitting between Indonesia and Hawaii, in the Pacific Islands, there are hundreds of small islands that make up Micronesia. There are four specific States of Micronesia: Kosrae, Yap, Pohnpei, and Chuuk. Sakau is an important aspect of Micronesia culture, yet the culture has evolved and modernized in recent times.

Micronesia Culture In Each Federated State

The residents in majority are the Chuukese and the Pohnpeian. Most residents speak many languages, one being English. Christianity is the most popular religion on the islands and the U.S. Dollar is the main currency.

Yap is one State of Micronesia where traditions run deep. Many characteristics that were popular thousands of years ago are still in play today. Some Yap islanders still wear grass skirts and loin cloths.

Men of Yap meet in clubs that are built just for the men in the village to communicate about important island and familial topics. This is likely where kava is served and consumed. Kava is not as popular on Yap as it is in the other States, like Pohnpei.

Pohnpei is quite modernized and kava is consumed by many daily. Kava is called sakau here, and along with yams, it is offered at important ceremonial and religious events.

Kosrae and Chuuk cultures are similar in that the church plays an influential role in their community and leaders are established based on their rank in the church or in the government. Subsistence lifestyles are how they survive; selling fish, plants and other island goods.

Many claim Kosrae is where kava originated in Micronesia. They say it was brought to the island by a Kosrean woman who supposedly hid the seeds of the kava plant inside her body when passing through inspection points during her travels.

In all the States, family and lineage is very important. Most residents’ ancestry dates to the settlers of the islands. This may be why traditions are valued so intensely.

Kava is a key staple of each State, but it is used mostly by the people of Pohnpei. In fact, kava has become famous for its use of sakau, or kava.

Micronesia Culture: Sakau Root | Root of Happiness

Harvesting Micronesian Sakau

Kava, or sakau, comes from the root of the piper methysticum plant that is grown in the Micronesian Islands. This plant is a distant relative of the pepper plant and is referred to as an intoxicating pepper on occasion.

The older the kava plant, the better affects you will experience. Mature kava plants are between five and ten years old.

When seeking the best quality kava, you will find it has been harvested from only the root of the plant. The stems, shoots and leaves are typically not used in making kava.

Because kava root does not last long once harvested, it is typically pressed into a powder form that can be dried and transported over great distances. This makes it accessible to people around the world.

How Sakau Is Used

Kava in the Micronesia culture and history has been used to seal agreements such as marriage or business. Kava, due to its calming effects and tendency to make you feel happy, was used to start rituals involving business deals or to send workers off to complete projects. For example, kava was often used to wish blessings on fisherman as they went to hunt and gather.

Ceremonies such as the birth of a child and mending friendships also involved drinking kava. It was a very political drink, offering conclusions to many situations, both positive and negative.

Micronesia culture uses this drink to celebrate funerals, to bless visitors, and to ask for forgiveness. It was originally used only by leaders within the community. Now, every member of the community can partake.

In Pohnpei, this kava is used to resolve disagreements and bring about forgiveness between the two groups who are quarreling. Village leaders offer sakau to both parties, discussions are had, and a peaceful ending is created.

Sakau Preparation

There are basically two ingredients involved in the original process of making such kava. These two ingredients are sakau and water. Today, however, kava can be mixed with other ingredients to produce a more flavorful variety.

The root is pounded or grinded into a pulp. Grinding is typically chosen as the method for preparing sakau. It is done by hand and pressed against a hard substance. For some, a block of coral or stone may be used.

The ground powder is then mixed with water. The wet mixture was then strained. The liquid that was strained is then consumed. Chewing sakau produces the strongest effect due to the release of kavalactones.

Kavalactones are the chemical compounds that determine strength.

Preparation of Kava | Root of Happiness

Kavalactones in Sakau

There are about eighteen kavalactones found in kava. Of these, only about six are found in Micronesian sakau. These are the best six strands you can extract from the kava plant. Kavalactones determine the effect you will receive from the mixture.

The six common kavalactones associated with giving you the euphoric and calming affects you desire are: desmethoxyyangonin, dihydrokavain, yangonin, kavain, dihydromethysticin, and methysticin.

How to Drink Sakau

There are a few recommendations for drinking sakau that are important to the culture of the island and the tradition of this kava drink.

One example of a recommendation is that you must keep your eyes closed from the time your lips touch the sakau bowl to the time you are finished drinking. According to lore, opening your eyes invites evil in. Others claim you may want to close your eyes due to the mere fact it has a strong odor and by closing your eyes, the smell cannot burn your eyes.

No matter which is true, if you are ever in Micronesia, you will likely try sakau. And if you cannot go to Micronesia, there are many kava suppliers who can sell you Micronesian kava varieties right here in the United States.

Even better, they have done all the arduous work, providing you with a Micronesian mixture that is easy to prepare and consume. All you must do is enjoy its effects.

The Importance of Kava in Tongan Culture

Kava has significance in each region of the Pacific Islands. What it means in Hawaii may be different than what it means in Fiji. Tongan culture is rich in history and kava has a deep-rooted importance to the people living on these islands.

Tongan Culture and Traditions

Tonga is composed of 150 islands. Most of the islands are not inhabited and remain wild with coral beaches, volcanoes and palm trees.

Farming and fishing are how Tongans make money. Fruits and vegetables and roots of plants are harvested for export. Many of the women also create products from natural items found in Tonga including woven baskets and mats.

Men build canoes and create art from wood to supplement incomes. They also make jewelry from shells, and textile arts using natural materials.

It is believed people arrived there from Fiji. The Tongan islands have been inhabited for over three thousand years. And for just as long, there has been Tongan culture and customs established that still exist today.

Food and Drink Customs in Tonga

People eat, and drink freely but also use them for special gatherings with family and friends. Ceremonies on the island are special occasions where the traditional drink of kava is offered to men. Women typically only serve kava.

While many drink kava daily throughout the Tongan villages, it is served for many reasons. Reasons include marriages, coronations of leaders, and funerals. Kava holds a special place in Tongan culture.

Drinking kava in Tonga is compared to men in the United States drinking beer at a bar. It is true that many Western habits and traditions have filtrated the Tongan Islands, including the drinking of alcohol. However, kava still holds higher importance within the Tongan culture, especially in the way it is prepared.

Tongan Kava Preparation | Root of Happiness

Kava Preparation in Tonga

Kava is harvested from the root of the Tongan plant called piper methysticum, which is a relative of the pepper plant. In ancient times, the kava root was cut into small pieces and chewed. The juice the chewing of the root created was spit into a bowl. The spit was consumed by Tongans to receive its calming effects.

Fortunately, today, kava is prepared in a healthier manner.

The root is pounded into powder form. The powder is then mixed with water. A female member of the village called a tou’a, is usually the one who will mix kava and serve it.

The water mixed with kava is strained through a porous cloth. The strained mixture is what is served to the males in the village in a specific order, starting with the leaders first.

On the main island of Tonga, kava is usually saved for drinking on Wednesday and Saturday nights. But on the outer islands, kava is prepared and consumed every night of the week.

Effects of Tongan Kava

Kava has an intoxicating effect without interrupting mental clarity. It is used in Tonga to relax the body and give people a feeling of good will towards others.

Kava strength is chosen by its color during the mixing process. After many years of drinking, the tou’a know the right color of kava for the right effects. A numbing of the tongue is reported to happen soon after drinking kava.

Other effects of kava can include helping a person get a good night’s sleep. Some drink it to be sociable, while others drink it to de-stress after a hard day’s work. Furthermore, Tongans have used kava as a sedative, muscle relaxants, diuretics and for nervousness.

Kava is consumed from the traditional Tongan kava bowl.

Tongan Kava Bowl

You would think a bowl that is used to hold a drink of great cultural importance would be ornate and fragile. Not the kava bowl. Although it is of great cultural significance, it is quite humble in appearance. Often, kava is consumed in coconut shells or cups.

Traditional kava bowls are made of wood and have four legs. It is placed on the ground for stability when the tou’a is mixing kava for drinking.

These methods of mixing and drinking kava continue today in both ceremonies and in the clubs established all over the islands.

Tongan Ceremony | Root of Happiness

Tongan Kava Clubs

Bonding among men is important to the Tongan culture. The use of kava helps people bond due to its relaxing and mind opening effects.

In some villages, kava is consumed every night by local men. In Tongan kava clubs, or kalapus, or faikava, men gather to enjoy kava at the end of the day. The tou’a cannot be related to anyone in the clubs today. However, in traditional Tonga, the tou’a was a female who was engaged to one of the villagers in the kava ceremony.

Kava drinkers sit in a circle and pass the kava by hand from the inner circle to the farthest out. Men discuss everything from sports to politics between rounds of kava drinking. Kava allows the men to be open and honest and accepting of other’s opinions, even if they do not agree with their own.

Tongan Kava Legend

Legend has it parents of a leprous daughter whose name was “kava”, sacrificed her to the ancient sacred king. After she was buried, two plants began to grow on her grave, piper methysticum and sugar cane. Since this time, both plants are used in important ceremonies and rituals.

This act corresponds with the four virtues of the Tongan culture. The four virtues include respect, humility, commitment and keeping good relations.

These four virtues still exist today. They are expressed as mutual respect; sharing, cooperating and fulfillment of mutual obligations; humility and generosity; and loyalty and commitment.

Tonga’s use of kava enhances these virtues. When you drink kava, you are expected to share with each other. Kava opens the mind to good will towards others, enabling the virtue of mutual respect. Kava also makes you feel generous. It also helps you feel humble and gracious for fellow men.

Kava, because of its great benefits, should be important in all cultures, not just Tongan. We could learn a lot from the Tongan culture.

Kava Strains Based on Where It Was Cultivated

Kava varies from region to region within the Pacific Islands. All regions treasure the piper methysticum plant, in which its roots are used to create kava. However, these kava strains differ based on where the kava is cultivated.

Kava’s name also varies among regions and different kava strains. Awa is the name for kava in Hawaii. Yaqona is its name in Fiji, while Malok is how some in Vanuatu refer to kava.

Just like the name can vary, so can cultivation methods. Therefore, some kava drinks offer different effects than others. In addition, the chemotypes and kavalactone numbers can help us identify where the kava was likely cultivated.

Chemotypes and Kavalactones

In kava plants, chemotypes are differentiated by kavalactones. These are the chemical compounds that make up the chemotypes in the kava plants.

When kavalactones are soaked in water, their psychoactive elements are released. When consumed, a person can experience relaxation while maintaining mental clarity.

To date, there have been eighteen kavalactones identified. However, only six of them are associated with giving the beneficial effects to those who consume it. The order in which they are combined determines the effect they will give the user.

The six common kavalactones associated with giving you the euphoric and calming affects you desire are: desmethoxyyangonin, dihydrokavain, yangonin, kavain, dihydromethysticin, and methysticin.

When choosing which kava strains you prefer, it's important to understand how each strain will affect you. Stick with those that have the numbers “2”, “4” or “6” in the beginning of the chemotype variety.

Fijian Kava | Root of Happiness

Fiji Kava

Yaqona in Fiji is pronounced Yan-go-na and is considered by natives to be a plant given to them by the Gods. Only the best strands of kavalactones are extracted from yaqona and they are only taken from the root of the plant.

Lateral roots are used in producing Fiji kava, making it one of the most concentrated kava strains.

Benefits of yaqona are that it contains a large amount of fiber, making it a healthy drink for digestion. It also gives you the positive effects that alcohol may give you, but without the negative effects of alcohol. For instance, you will feel relaxed, but will not have a hangover.

Kava in Fiji develops a tan color, have a hint of pepper taste and is said to have a creamy texture. It is known for is stress-relieving effects that take the edge off but not so much that you feel sedated and unable to function.

Vanuatu Kava

Harvesters cloned parts of the piper plant families to form what is known today as the piper methysticum plant. Travelers took strands of the plant to other islands in the South Pacific, each creating their own version of kava.

Vanuatu remains the leader in having the most varieties of kava strains. They have more varieties of kava than anywhere else in the world.

Kava grows best in loose soil so that air can reach the roots. The plants themselves prefer good rainfalls and a lot of humidity. Kava is propagated by stem cuttings since it cannot reproduce on its own. At least four years goes by before it is ready for cultivation.

Even though it is grown on sunny islands in the Pacific, the piper methysticum plant prefers shady areas. A popular version of Vanuatu kava is called melo melo and often people drink this variety before parties. Melo melo is known to ease nerves while also giving you energy.

In Vanuatu, the chemotype sequence mostly likely begins with a “2” and a “6” or “5”.

Vanuatu Kava Ceremony | Root of Happiness

Hawaiian Kava

Kava is called awa in Hawaii. Most tea is made using the fresh root of the plant. Sometimes the root is sundried and used later. It is chopped into small pieces and pounded into a powder like form. Awa is then mixed with water and strained. In the beginning, awa was chewed to mix with saliva, then spit into a bowl.

The strained liquid is what Islanders consume. Sometimes the awa is put in a kalabash and warmed over hot stones, then cooled again before drinking.

Harvesting the awa root after a rain makes it easier to remove from the ground.

Kava likes to grow on the side of a hill but not on the top. The stalk can be cut into sections and planted right side up, with most of the cane being beneath the moist earth, in a shady place. Kava cuttings are planted for a few months until the cuttings have roots showing. They are then transplanted into pots as it grows to a large enough size to be transplanted directly into the ground.

Chemotypes that begin with a “4” and “6” are usually kava strains cultivated in Hawaii. This means that Hawaiian kava has kavain and methysticin. From there you can determine that this strand will help you feel relaxed but also make you interested in socializing due to feelings of being happy.

Tongan Kava

Tonga, just like the other regions, have multiple varieties of kava. One of the most popular kava strains from this area is said to have a nutty flavor. It’s called Fu’u and offers a creative and social effects. The kavalactone lineup of this variety begins with 4,6 and 5.

Other versions of kava in Tonga are labeled due to their color, like Tongan White.  It is considered creamy with a smooth taste.

Many people drink this type of kava to relax at the end of the work day while remaining alert and functioning.

By understanding the different chemotypes of kava, you can determine which kava strains are best for you. BULA!