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Simply the World’s Best Kava

Fiji Kava vs. Vanuatu Kava

The Differences in Drinking Kava from Fiji or Vanuatu

Generally speaking, there aren’t a great deal of differences between drinking Fiji Kava and Vanuatu Kava.

Though all kava in Fiji comes from noble varieties, it’s the Waka Kava strain from Fiji that is usually the one you can buy in Australia. It is known as being the top one of the “heavy” varieties. By that, I mean it is the one to drink if you are looking to relax your body without being highly euphoric. This relaxing effect comes about from the kavalactones in the Waka roots powder. Hence, this makes it ideal for people for social occasions. After all, that is when we want to be relaxed. As a side note, people also use the relaxing body effect for medical and health benefits.

Image of young women drinking kava as a social tonic Notwithstanding that, the kava landscape is ever-changing when it comes to the availability of different strains. A recent newcomer to the Fiji kava scene is a blend of high-grade cultivars – Fiji Harmony Kava. With a leaning towards euphoria, it also acts as a great relaxant. In essence, it’s an excellent social tonic for get-togethers with friends or family.

Fiji Kava vs. Vanuatu Kava (continued….)

Vanuatu exports the largest range of noble variety kava strains to Australia.

They range from the “heady” to the “heavy” varieties (although none are as ‘heavy’ as the Waka from Fiji). In brief, the following types from Vanuatu are the most popular and strongest strains in Australia:

Kelai Kava – From Epi Island. This boutique kava cultivar is on par with the heady qualities of Melo Melo.

Melo Melo Kava – Straight from Pentecost Island in Vanuatu

Borogu Kava – Comes from three of the major provinces in Vanuatu –  PENAMA, SHEFA and SANMA. Borogu is easily the most popular of Vanuatu kava types within Vanuatu. In fact, it is this variety which is commonly found in the majority of nakamals. This is mainly because of its quicker yield time and size. This means that the kava growers get a better return on the use of their land and on their labour. So, they grow lots of it. It’s also an excellent all-round kava. Most kava types land in either the “heady” or the “heavy” camp. However, Borogu is a lovely balance of both. It gives a nice euphoric buzz coupled with a relaxing body effect.

Image of man in gym relaxing with a Vanuatu Natural Kava after a workout One of the best aspects of drinking kava is its ability to help you wind down after strenuous activity like a gym workout, catching a few waves of after a run or .. after a stressful day. To this end, you can now buy the best Vanuatu kava in blended form. This is one which has taken the best Vanuatu cultivars and blended them to provide that perfect recipe for when you just want to wind down and relax your muscles and mind. The name of this particular kava is Vanuatu Natural and can be obtained from here.

Whilst we understand that the greatest rivalry between kava-producing countries appears to be that between Vanuatu and Fiji, we must accept the reality that Tongan Kava is the biggest exporter of kava to Australia! In fact, nearly 50% of all kava imports into Australia are from Tonga. Now that premium Tongan Kava is available in Australia in the form of Moana Premium Kava, the competition has become intense! As it happens, the reliability of supply from Tonga can often be an issue so if your ever see that it’s available, you should grab it while you can at Tongan Kava.

Image of Instant Kava pack Finally, there’s Instant Kava. Fiji doesn’t have the capacity to produce it whereas Vanuatu does. It is made by dehydrating fresh green kava juice which then forms a very fine powder. This often referred to as the “10-second kava” because it only takes that amount of time to prepare it.

One of the beauties of Instant Kava also is that it’s the ideal mix for preparing Kava Cocktails and Smoothies. Check out some of our Kava Recipes here. Finally, it’s an unfortunate situation that some so-called instant kava available here in Australia is simply micronised root powder – unpleasant to drink and not as effective as the real stuff. All our recommended kavas are fully certified as being of noble variety. So, please be aware of the difference.

So, what is the best Kava?

The Best Kava Roots - Noble Variety

The best kava? is an interesting question. That’s because the answer is entirely subjective, depending upon your kava drinking experience and personal tastes.

Moreover, there are other factors in play here. To me, what constitutes “the best kava” comes down to what YOU like and what likes YOU! That said, it pays to be aware that not all kava strains are the same.

For instance, some will give you a high level ‘buzz’ – a feeling of euphoria. Others will give you more of a body ‘stone’ while others will be a balanced mix of the two.

There there is the matter of individual metabolism. Different metabolisms may result in different levels of the effects felt, for example. Most importantly, you should only ever drink noble variety kava (more explanation on this below).

Either way, noble variety kava is a root plant with its proper name being Piper methysticum. Furthermore, it is thought that the name Kava derives from the Tongan language meaning “bitter”.

You may not be aware that it’s only the root of the plant that’s used to make kava powder and for drinks. Consequently, different parts of the root are used for different purposes.

For instance, it’s good for you to know some of the methods used for the preparation of kava in Fiji.

Fiji Kava Preparation

There they use the lateral root – Waka and the main root, Lawena. Because Waka Kava has a much higher kavalactone content than the Lawena, Waka Kava is more potent and has a bitter taste.

Also, did you know that the effects from Kava are due to the kavalactones? These are a lactone compound that are responsible for creating the psychotropic effects of Kava drinks. And so it is that these kavalactone compounds make for the best kava. Therefore, people usually measure the potency of Kava based on its kavalactone content.

More on this subject can be seen in this article  – “The Best Kava in Australia”

Where Does Kava Grow?

Now that you understand the “what is kava” question, we can look at its origins. Specifically, it comes from the Pacific Islands. And in particular, the following countries:

  • Vanuatu
  • Fiji
  • Samoa
  • Tonga
  • Solomon Islands and
  • Micronesia
IMPORTANT FACT:

Anything other than noble variety kava shouldn’t normally be consumed. Although wild kava is sometimes used for medicinal purposes by indigenous Ni-Vanuatu, we recommend that you, the reader, stay away from it.

Here’s a great explanation from Australia Kava Shop of what exactly is meant by ‘wild kava: “Wild Kava is commonly known as Tu Dei (Two Day) or Isa, is a quick yielding kava variety. In the past two decades of kava research it is generally understood that these varieties are unsafe for drinking. They are normally high in the DHM and DHK kava lactones which can be traced to some hepatoxic issues.  It is called Tu-Dei (Two Day) kava as it is known to give you a kava hangover for up to 2 days.”

Our final recommendation on this topic is that you should always ensure that the kava that you buy online is certified. If it is, this will guarantee the quality of what you are buying.

Kava Plant in Vanuatu

How is Kava Prepared?

Next, we look at how people prepare it. For instance, in the Pacific Islands, they still use Kava root.

Kava Roots

However, as you may already know, in Australia and other western countries, Kava powder is the main form. What follows are some examples of different Kava preparation.

Fiji

In Fiji, Kava is usually prepared as part of the Yaqona ceremony where an MC (master of Ceremonies) uses dried Kava root and grinds it into a pulp. Additionally, they may strain it through a traditional strainer bag as well or knead the mixture. After that, they add water and the kava usually is normally mixed in a large bowl. Ultimately, the kava drink is then distributed to the ceremonial group wherein each person takes a drink.

Tonga

Hand-selected and expertly harvested, the premium kava grown is the Leka Hina kava variety. During preparation, roots undergo a rigorous process that includes sun-drying and stone grinding to preserve the plant’s beneficial properties. This precise approach ensures that the kava maintains its potency, flavor, and unique characteristics.

Vanuatu

Vanuatu Kava Preparation of the best kava

As we know from experience, in Vanuatu, the process differs slightly. That is, traditionally, they cut the root, and break it into small pieces. Then, as we have seen, children or young women chew the root and spit it into a bowl. Also, it is often then mixed with coconut water or coconut milk.

By chewing the root, the active ingredients of the Kava (kavalactones) are released. Once the root mixes with the water or milk, they strain and squeeze it. To top it off, they dilute it with clean water and serve in a coconut shell for drinking.

Why is Kava Used?

People use Kava for various reasons such as a recreational drink (been there, done that!). However, it is also used as part of deep cultural ceremonies and traditions. Alternatively, others use Kava for wellness and to help with a variety of conditions.

 For ceremonial reasons

In countries like Fiji, Kava is a ceremonial drink where the Kava ceremony in Fiji is a fabulous thing to witness. A ceremony leader gives Kava to participants sitting in a circle. Then each participant takes turns to empty a bowl of Kava. Also, it is a mark of disrespect if you refuse a drink.

Although the Kava ceremony in Fiji is the best-known example, other Pacific Nation countries have their own ceremonies and traditions too.

For instance, one of the traditions in Vanuatu is the use of certain kava strains for ceremonial occasions. The noble variety Melo Melo is is one such strain.

 As a social tonic

Image of group of friends at the beach drinking Vanuatu Natural Kava As we do, throughout the world, people enjoy Kava as a social drink. Also, the effects that Kava instils are something people enjoy. As such, it often replaces alcohol as a safer social tonic without the negative side effects of a hangover.

In fact, these days there are more and more people turning to kava cocktails as their alternative drink of choice (such as these delightful kava recipes).

People drink Kava at bars (in Vanuatu these are known as “nakamals”). There, friends will gather to enjoy Kava together. Moreover, drinking kava is a very social thing that helps relaxation and often creates a pleasant sense of euphoria.

So, whether you want Instant Kava, Tonga Kava, Vanuatu Kava or Fiji Kava, you can buy the best kava online via the various links on this site.