Rambling over.... Kava Tea. (Making, flavoring and drinking - with photos)

This post is not sponsored by any particular company.  I did my own research and spent my own money to buy from a company that does sell on Amazon as well as their own site.  I'm not affiliated with them in any way.

Rambling over Kava tea?  Yeah, you thought I was going to say coffee!

Even this coffee girl needs to sleep sometimes - and sleep doesn't come easy for me. 

Come 1:30, 2:30 in the morning I usually wake up and boom! My brain is not only instantly awake but it's going 100 mph and I'm trying to solve every problem in the world.  My anxiety shoots through the roof.  I'm over educated enough to know everything that can go wrong in situations and I over think them to death.  I don't fall back to sleep until about 5:00 or 5:30 am and then of course the universe needs me to be awake and functioning soon after so..... Sleep. The elusive sleep. Enter Kava Tea.

Kava tea or kava drinks come from a root that grows in the Pacific Islands.  It's muddy-tasting, dirty water looking drink that the Islanders have been drinking for centuries;  in my research I even found sources that say it's been used in the Fiji Islands for thousands of years.

It's touted as a potent anxiety reliever; kava offers a non-alcoholic way to wind down and relax or fall asleep.

Calming but keeps you alert - it just takes the edge off and relaxes you.  There have been numerous studies shown that kava does in fact work and some have found it comparable to antidepressants and chemicals like Xanax and Valium but without any side effects or addictions.   I did read in my research that there were liver damage warnings for heavy use but digging deeper, I found those to be flawed.  1) One of the studies found the participants experiencing problems were on other drugs that have liver damaging side effects and 2) Another did not differentiate between the source of the Kava.  You do not use the leaves nor the stem.  Use of the kava root only is a must (which is why you have to trust your purchase source!  Know what you are buying!)

Please do your own research on the benefits, warnings, recipes, ingredients, effects, studies, etc. on Kava.  Don't take my word for it - I am just sharing my story and how I make it.  There are kava 'experts' out there and I suggest you find one if you have any specific questions. 

There are different kinds of Kava and they have different effects after drinking them.  I choose one of the best ones for sleep and anxiety.  If you heard from a friend who heard from a friend that this stuff gives you some kind of buzz, you'll be disappointed. Nada. Nothing. It's just muddy tasting tea that may or may not help you sleep or take away some achy muscles. Your tongue may tingle. That's about it.

I will link to some other, strong kinds you can order through Amazon below this post.

The traditional way to make kava is to put about 2-4 tablespoons of ground up kava root into a strainer, muslin bag, cheesecloth, etc. You can even use an old, clean t-shirt. For each 2-4 tablespoons of kava use about a cup to 12 oz. of hot water depending on how strong you want your Kava mixture to taste. Hot from the tap is a good temperature although I used hot water from my coffee machine.

Place the strainer containing the kava root into your bowl. Next, pour the hot water directly into the bag/cloth with the kava root. Let this sit in the bowl for about 10 minutes.

Now start twisting and wringing.  Twist the top of your kava strainer/cloth closed and press out all the excess air. Begin kneading the kava root that’s inside the bag in the remaining water in the bowl. Alternate kneading the bag in the bowl and twisting it to strain all the water out. Your water should be turning a nice milky brown color similar to chocolate milk or dirty water. After kneading 5-10 minutes, twist the bag tight to remove all water from the root while not letting any actual root into your kava liquid.

Some people drink it warm but most like it chilled.  So add whatever flavorings you wish and chill it or if you are impatient like I am, dump some ice in it.

I started out doing it that way but realized kneading and twisting was more time consuming than I had patience for, and wasn't real comfortable on my sore shoulder!  Commence to switch to the EASY method!

Quick Kava Tea Method

Add 2-4 Tablespoons of Kava for each 8-12 oz hot water and put into a blender. Blend on high for approximately 3-4 minutes, empty and strain this through a cloth strainer, twisting and kneading. I let mine drip strain in the glass pitcher in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes before straining.  I like to do two strainings because there is always pulp left in my cheesecloth after the second and I don't want that in my drink.

Note: after the first strain, when you throw the pulp away, it looks like a dirty baby diaper.  Just be prepared - this is not a 'pretty' drink prep!  The double straining process also helps because in my researching I found some people reported headaches or nausea after drinking; but when they started to double strain and get more of the pulp out, they had no headaches or nausea.  I never did either, although I've been double straining since the first.

FLAVORINGS:  I read it worked best mixed with coconut milk or milk.  Then you add whatever flavors you wish.  It has a 'muddy' flavor - an earthy taste to it. If you don't mind it, drink it straight.  I opt to use coconut milk or almond milk along with a dash of almond coffee syrup or extract, some vanilla coffee syrup or extract, and a stick of cinnamon.  I like cardamom in it when I have it on hand and some people put ginger in it but I'm not a fan so I don't. Within a few minutes of drinking it you should feel your tongue start to tingle a little bit.  Then you'll know you have real, good kava from a reputable source.

There are also Kava Extract Drops available that you simply use instead of brewing a tea with the powdered root and I will link to some below, but I've never used those.  And Micro powder versions which I'm told you don't have to use as much, nor a blender to mix but I've never used that style.

This is the brand and kind of Kava I chose due to the reaction I needed from my tea:  SLEEP and anti-anxiety.

Blending the hot water and kava powder in a blender

I chose to use some cheesecloth and a margarita pitcher. I simple twisted the top, pushed into the ice block slot and let drip while chilling

It clogs up the strainer or cheesecloth you still need to twist and knead and press to get the water out.  I double strained mine.

Note:  You only want the pure Noble variety.  So make sure you use a good source company.

I only researched these kinds as I was looking for the best to use for sleep and shoulder pain.  
There are more varieties available and more companies but you'll have to do your own research.

Tongan Pouni Ono - uplifting and happy calm - good for daytime use
Fiji Loa Waka - happy and calming then relaxed- balanced - afternoon use
Vanuatu Borogu - happy and calming then relaxed - balanced - afternoon use
Fiji Vula Waka - for sleep/anxiety (and only available through the KavaKalm site right now as of this posting) - night use
Vanuatu Borongru - for sleep/anxiety - night use

I said above I would link to the extra drops even though I've not used drops.  However these are two companies I read good things about and one of the brands below is sold by a very well known, large and reputable herb and spice company.  I am linking to the product on Amazon if you are interested.

Gaia Herbs - Kava Kava Root Extra Strength - 2 oz

Kava Kava HawaiiPharm NON-Alcohol Liquid Extract, Kava Kava (Piper Methysticum) Dried Root Glycerite 2 oz