Kava Root Quality Standard Testing

The Importance of Regional Kava Standards

The Importance of Regional Kava Standards

Kava has been consumed for centuries for its relaxing and social effects, as well as for its cultural significance. It is important to remember that not all kava products are equal. Some may present potential health risks, or cause difficulties with international trade, if they do not meet certain quality standards.

One of the main issues affecting kava quality is the variety of the plant. There are two main types of kava: Noble and Non-Noble. Noble forms of kava varieties have a history of safe use and are preferred by consumers and regulators.

Non-Noble kava varieties are often known as Tudei kava or Two-Day kava. They contain higher levels of flavokavains, which can be harmful and not considered a drinking kava powder. These compounds could lead to side effects such as nausea, drowsiness, and even liver damage.

The kavalactone content in these varieties of kava roots are in high concentrations, which makes these types attractive. The negatives with these types of kava however, far outhweigh the desireable effects these kavas may have.

Non-Noble kava varieties are at higher risk of being mixed with other plant parts, like stems and leaves. This can cause a decrease in quality and strength.

Another issue affecting kava quality is the processing and preparation methods. Kava products can be classified into three categories: fresh, dried, and instant.

  • Fresh kava is made from freshly harvested roots that are pounded or grated and mixed with water.
  • Dried kava is made from sun-dried or oven-dried roots that are ground into a powder and mixed with water.
  • Instant kava is made from dried kava which is further processed into a soluble form. This form can be mixed with water or other liquids. Each category has its own positives and negatives in terms of convenience, shelf life, potency, and safety.


To ensure that kava products are safe and consistent, some countries and regions have developed their own kava standards and regulations. In 2020, the CA Commission approved a regional standard for kava products. This standard is for use as a beverage when mixed with water in the North America and South West Pacific region.

The standard for kava products requires them to be made from Noble varieties of the kava plant. Additionally, no additives or processing aids should be used. Lastly, the product should be prepared and consumed in accordance with historically safe practices. The standard also provides guidelines for labeling, sampling, testing, and hygiene.

The Tongan government developed the Tongan Kava Quality Standard (TKQS) in 2018. This standard promotes the export of high-quality kava products. The TKQS (Tonga Kava Quality Standard) states that three parts of the plant are allowed for use: 

  • Roots (waka) 
  • Peeled rhizomes (lewena) 
  • Basal stump (kani)

The stems, leaves, and peelings (bark) however, are removed from the final product. These should never be used in the preparation and manufacture of the kava drink. The TKQS also sets limits for moisture content, unwanted microbes, heavy metals, pesticides, and flavokavains.

The development of regional kava standards is important for several reasons. Kava products can help protect public health and safety. This is because they reduce the risk of exposure to harmful substances or contaminants.

Second, kava quality standards can help promote fair trade. It can guarantee that kava products meet the needs of customers and authorities in different markets.

Third, it can help local economies. It creates opportunities for kava farmers and processors to make high-quality products. These products can compete in the global market.

However, regional kava standards also face some challenges and limitations. One challenge is to harmonize the different standards and regulations across countries and regions to avoid confusion among stakeholders.

This is another challenge. We must make sure that the standards are based on reliable scientific evidence. We must also take into account the cultural diversity and preferences of kava consumers and producers.

A third challenge is to implement and enforce the standards effectively and efficiently through adequate monitoring, testing, certification, and education. Regional kava standards are essential. They ensure the quality and safety of kava products used as a beverage when mixed with water.

We at Art of Kava post our per batch testing for all of our kava. You can confirm that the above standards for kava cultivars have been done with our posted testing. With this you can also gauge the effects of kava beverage. The relaxant effects of kava are described as heavy kava, heady kava and balanced kava.

Many people that have stress issues or general anxiety disorder go to kava as a possible natural solution to treating anxiety. Using this information can help you decide if Vanuatu kavas like MeloMelo (heavy) or another called Puariki (heady) is best.

In conclusion, these standards are vital. Kava consumption and production must be respected when developing and applying it. History, culture, and diversity must be taken into account. Furthermore, they need to be supported by ongoing research and collaboration among all stakeholders involved in the kava industry.


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