What does Kava taste like?

Written by: Kalah Garcia


Key Takeaways:

  • A native to the South Pacific, traditional Kava has sedative, anesthetic, and euphoric properties. 
  • Kavalactones, the psychoactive components, are responsible for Kava's effects. 
  • Kava's potency and effect vary based on cultivar and region. 
  • To ensure a genuine Kava experience, source from reliable vendors. 


In the world of traditional remedies and herbal drinks, Kava stands out. Traditional Kava has traveled the world with its roots beginning in the Pacific Islands.

The cultural practices surrounding Kava bring calming effects to diverse populations. What ultimately sets Noble Kava apart? With the many types available, how does one tell the difference between them? What does kava taste like? Let's find out the answers to these questions and more.

Kava Tastes Like?

First, brace yourself for the unique flavor profile of Kava Root. Kava's flavor profile is earthy, sometimes underlined by a very earthy taste. Alongside this foundation, many detect subtle peppery spice, hinting at its tropical roots.

Some drinkers even taste gentle whispers of peanut butter, cocoa, or other nutty undertones, adding layers to its taste tapestry. Kava's versatile flavor testifies to the rich soils where its roots thrive. Initially, its robust taste might challenge your palate. Repeated experiences often lead to a deep appreciation for its complex character and nuances.

What is Noble Kava?

Kava, scientifically known as Piper methysticum, is a crop native to the South Pacific. The Kava plant's roots produce a drink with sedative, anesthetic, and euphoric properties. Traditionally, people prepare this drink by chewing, grinding, or pounding the roots and then mixing them with cold water.

Upon consuming Kava, one can expect a numbing sensation on the tongue, followed by a calming effect. People often describe the induced feelings as a state of relaxed focus. This makes Kava a popular choice among those looking for an alternative to alcohol or other relaxation methods.

Does Kava Work?

Noble Kava's reputation for inducing relaxation and mental clarity has piqued global interest. But how does Kava work? Kavalactones give Kava its core efficacy. These compounds give Kava its sedative and anxiolytic properties.

Studies published in PubMed Central(1), have provided evidence for Kava's potential as an effective treatment for generalized anxiety disorder. What sets Kava apart from other relaxants is its ability to provide tranquility without impairing cognitive functions.

However, Kava's efficiency is diverse and can vary based on numerous factors. Personal metabolism, preparation techniques, and the quality of Kava root all play a role in determining its impact. For instance, extraction methods can influence kavalactone potency, as indicated by a study in Phytotherapy Research(4).

It's also essential to note that not all Kava types have the same effects. The cultivar and region significantly influence its potency and subsequent experience. Noble Kava, in particular, stands out for its consistent Kavalactone content, ensuring predictable effects. To fully benefit from Kava's offerings, understanding these nuances and making informed choices is paramount.



The Kava Journey: Tips for First-Time Drinkers

Welcome to the world of Kava, it can be both exciting and slightly daunting. Understanding what to expect is vital as you prepare to indulge in this traditional Pacific Island drink.

This is to ensure a rewarding experience. Here's a detailed look at the many sensations and intricacies surrounding kava consumption:

Sipping and Savoring Kava
My Kava Tale: During my first encounter with Kava, the sensation was surprising. I sampled a "heady" Kava, the initial sip delivered an unexpected tingling sensation. Yet, the subsequent effects proved even more fascinating.

I felt euphoric and peaceful. Then soon became very chatty with the friends I was with. A few friends who joined me for their first Kava experience had similar reactions.

We sat in our kava circle each taking turns trying traditional Kava. I asked my friends what they thought of the experience. My friend Amber said, “It must be a truth serum because I just keep saying everything I am thinking”. My other friend Nick said, “I can’t stop smiling, I just feel happy.

Kava Taste Sensations 
Upon your first sip, you'll likely notice a tingling sensation, especially around the mouth. A mild mouth numbness quickly follows, indicating Kava's active compounds are at work. Enthusiasts worldwide appreciate this numbing sensation as a hallmark of genuine noble Kava.


The Varying Landscape of Kava Varieties
Kava's effects can vary significantly based on the cultivar and region of origin. The euphoric highs of some Vanuatu cultivars to the calming effects of Fijian varieties. The plant's lineage plays a crucial role in determining its impact. Thus, it's essential to research and choose cultivars that align with the experience you are looking for.
Preparation and Product Choice

How you prepare the Kava plant product type you select significantly influences its potency. Traditional preparation involves grounding the Kava root and mixing it with cold water. There are numerous modern iterations available, from tinctures to powders. It's important to follow preparation guidelines closely for an optimal experience.

 Kava Consumption Best Practices
To maximize Kava's effects, consume it on an empty stomach. This allows for faster absorption and a more intense experience. We recommend with its distinctively earthy palate, complementing Kava with a drink chaser.

Such as a piece of fresh fruit or cocoa beans might help. It cleanses the palate and enhances the overall experience.

Understanding Onset and Duration
After consumption, the onset of relaxation effects can be varied. It is generally swift often within 20-30 minutes, but sometimes can take up to 40 minutes. The full effects can last anywhere from 2 to 4 hours, depending on the Kava variety and the individual's metabolism. The calming and euphoric sensations can last the rest of the day.

fijian beach at sunrise

Deciding Between Types of Kava

Kava’s vast array offers a unique blend for each taste and requirement. Delving deeper into the variety can help you appreciate its richness and pinpoint the cultivars best suited to your needs. They generally divide into region, cultivar, and the effects they produce.

1.) By Region:

The Pacific Islands are teeming with distinct Kava types. The local climate, soil, and cultivation methods often shape their effects.

  • Fijian Kava: Experts often recommend this variant to beginners because of its balanced effects.

Popular cultivars: Qila leka, Damu, Dokobana Waka, Koro

  • Vanuatu Kava: This variety boasts a high Kavalactone content and often ranks among the most potent Kavas.

Popular cultivars: Bir Kar, Melo Melo, Kelai, Puariki, Gorgor

  • Solomon Islands Kava: Known for its strong euphoric effects and rich flavor.

Popular cultivars: Santa Isabel Feo, Temotu Purple, Temo Purple Basal, Temo Purple Lateral

2.) By Cultivar:

Kava cultivars can be diverse, each with unique characteristics and properties. Here are some notable cultivars and what to expect:

  • Qila leka (Fijian): Offers a balanced effect, making it a top pick for daily use. Its smooth taste and well-rounded potency have earned it a spot as a favorite among many Kava enthusiasts.
  • Damu (Fijian): A heavy Kava that provides profound relaxation. Many use Damu for its sleep-enhancing benefits. Its deep roots impart a distinct flavor that seasoned Kava drinkers enjoy.
  • Dokobana Waka (Fijian): People often take this Kava for its uplifting effects during social events. The aftertaste is mild, making it a great option for those new to Kava.
  • Koro (Fijian): With its roots in Koro Island, this Kava is popular for its peaceful effects. It provides deep relaxation and is particularly effective in relieving stress.
  • Bir Kar (Vanuatu): A top-tier variety known for its ecstatic followed by a calm, relaxing effect. An excellent choice for those seeking mental clarity along with relaxation.
  • Melo Melo (Vanuatu): It stands out for its powerful soothing properties. Often consumed during the evening, especially for aiding with restful sleep.
  • Kelai (Vanuatu): Famed for its balanced effects, Kelai delivers both elation and relaxation without overly sedative effects.
  • Puariki (Vanuatu): With its uplifting and euphoric characteristics, it's a popular choice for social settings. You can also take it when you desire a boost in mood.
  • Gorgor (Vanuatu): Recognized for its distinct and profound calming attributes. It's a go-to for individuals looking to wind down or those desiring restful sleep.
  • Santa Isabel Feo (Solomon Islands): Its rapid onset sets it apart. It provides a mix of happiness followed by relaxation. It is a favorite feeling among Kava enthusiasts.
  • Temo Purple Basal (Solomon Islands): It elicits a mild sensation of euphoria. It's an ideal pick for someone looking for a mood uplift without strong sedative effects.
  • Temo Purple Lateral (Solomon Islands): A counterpart to its basal variety, it offers a slightly deeper relaxation effect. Ideal for relaxing evenings, this selection provides a serene reprieve, especially following a particularly long day.
  • Temotu Purple Cultivar (Solomon Islands): A dark brown Kava with a distinctive nutty aroma, directly sourced from Temotu Province family farms. Ideal for those desiring swift relaxation and lasting calm, it stands out as a top-tier Kava choice.

Temuto's Strength and Bir Kar's Daytime Balance

Among the diverse varieties of Kava, the Temuto Lateral Root stands out as the strongest. It holds value for its unparalleled potency. Many enthusiasts and connoisseurs regard it as the pinnacle of strength in the Kava world.

On the other hand, Bir Kar has earned its reputation as the premier daytime choice. Not just for its strength, but for its balanced nature. Bir Kar's balance provides a harmonious daytime experience and still allows you to stay productive in your day.

3.) By Effect:

Each Kava cultivar carries a signature impact, sortable by the predominant sensations they induce:


Heady Kavas:

  • Primary Effect: Euphoria
  • Description: These cultivars induce a state of euphoria, elevating one's mood and bringing about feelings of happiness and well-being. Ideal for social settings or whenever you need a boost.


Heavy Kavas: 
  • Primary Effect: Sedative
  • Description: With a stronger emphasis on calm and relaxation, these cultivars are perfect. For unwinding after a long day, aiding in restful sleep, and relieving tension. They may induce a sensation of lethargy or drowsiness.


Balanced Kavas:

  •  Primary Effect: A balance between euphoria and sedative
  • Description: These cultivars offer a harmonious blend of both heady and heavy effects. They provide a sense of relaxed alertness, making them suitable for various scenarios, from social gatherings to moments of solitude.


Fijian Island

The Quest for Pure Kava: Exploring the Best in the Market

When diving into the world of the Kava Root, enthusiasts are always on the lookout for the very best. As the popularity of this Pacific Island drink surges, discerning between various blends becomes key.

Top Kava Blends:
The best Kava blends in the market result from meticulous cultivation and processing. These blends stand out not only in flavor but also in their potency and the quality of relaxation they provide. With countless options available, it's essential to do thorough research. Keep looking for recommendations to find a blend that aligns with your preferences.


Ensuring Quality: Securing top-quality Kava products is a non-negotiable aspect of a genuine Kava experience. Always prioritize vendors known for their genuineness, transparency, and lab-tested offerings. This not only ensures that you're getting pure Kava but also that it's free from contaminants and adulterants.


Dispelling the Kava Myth and Embracing its Adventurous Side

Recent studies, including one by PubMed Central(3), have delved into the longstanding myth associating Kava with liver damage. The results have been eye-opening, particularly for those cautious about indulging in this traditional beverage. According to PubMed Central(2) findings, when consumed in its traditional form.

The appropriate amounts, of Kava pose minimal risk to liver health. Understanding that earlier concerns regarding Kava's hepatotoxicity primarily stemmed from poor-quality Kava extracts or mixtures containing harmful substances is essential.

Kava, apart from its calming and communal drinking culture, intrigues many worldwide with its adventurous side. Steeped in Pacific Island traditions, each Kava blend presents a unique taste and experience. From the tingling sensations it produces in the mouth to the varying degrees of relaxation depending on the cultivar.

Kava invites its drinkers to a journey of sensory exploration. It could be it's the communal gatherings it fosters or the tales of ancient Pacific voyages it recalls. Kava offers more than just a drink; it offers an adventure into a vibrant culture.


1. Witte S, Loew D, Gaus W. Meta-analysis of the efficacy of the acetonic kava-kava extract WS1490 in patients with non-psychotic anxiety disorders. Phytother Res. 2005 Mar;19(3):183-8. doi: 10.1002/ptr.1609. PMID: 15934028.  
2. Narayanapillai SC, Leitzman P, O'Sullivan MG, Xing C. Flavokawains a and B in kava, not dihydromethysticin, potentiate acetaminophen-induced hepatotoxicity in C57BL/6 mice. Chem Res Toxicol. 2014 Oct 20;27(10):1871-6. doi: 10.1021/tx5003194. Epub 2014 Sep 12. PMID: 25185080; PMCID: PMC4203398.
3. Bian T, Corral P, Wang Y, Botello J, Kingston R, Daniels T, Salloum RG, Johnston E, Huo Z, Lu J, Liu AC, Xing C. Kava as a Clinical Nutrient: Promises and Challenges. Nutrients. 2020 Oct 5;12(10):3044. doi: 10.3390/nu12103044. PMID: 33027883; PMCID: PMC7600512.
4. Warburton, E., Norris, P. L., & Goenaga-Infante, H. (2007). Comparison of the capabilities of accelerated solvent extraction and sonication as extraction techniques for the quantification of kavalactones in piper methysticum (Kava) roots by high performance liquid chromatography with ultra violet detection. Phytochemical Analysis, 18(2), 98-102.



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