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By Zane Yoshida

Kava Shots: Perfect For Teetotalers

Kava shots are at home in many places. They can be study aids, anti-anxiety supplements, a way to rejuvenate muscles after exercising, a way to relax before flying, or yoga supplements, to name a few.

Kava shots may also be the perfect solution for teetotalers, who like the social side of sharing a drink, but prefer to avoid pubs, bars, and clubs.

Teetotalism

Kava is drunk by millions of people throughout the South Pacific on a daily basis. Increasingly it is also being used in the west, where it is finding ways to assimilate into our culture.

One of the potential challenges for kava is that alcohol has already cemented its place as the great ‘social drink’ in the west. But this neglects the large amounts of people who are teetotal for one reason or another.

Not everyone who drinks kava shots is teetotal, of course. But kava can fill a ‘gap’ for some people who abstain from alcohol. There are many reasons for doing so, including:

  • Health reasons
  • Religious reasons
  • Because they are on medication
  • To save money
  • To lose weight
  • To avoid hangovers
  • To avoid depression
  • To sleep better
  • To stay in control
  • To avoid alcohol-fueled problems
  • To avoid aggression
  • To avoid alcoholism
  • They don’t like the taste

…plus many others! You can probably think of a few more…

The different effects of kava

Kava is a social drink that avoids many of the problems associated with alcohol – especially in terms of health and negative behavior.

Also, there is no conflict with most religions. For instance, tea, coffee and alcohol are prohibited for Mormons, but there are no restrictions on kava!

With kava there is no hangover, you stay in control, it is easy on the liver (if you select the right noble kava), and it has quite the reverse effect to making you aggressive; it will generally relax you and make you rather passive.

If you’re a teetotaler you can seek one of the many kava bars that are springing up around the world – maybe there’s one in your local area?

Or, if you prefer to have a more portable version, try the Taki Mai shots mixed with natural fruit juices  – not only do they possess all those great kava relaxation benefits; they taste great too!

By Zane Yoshida

It’s Kava – not Cava!

In Europe, there is sometimes a little confusion between the drinks kava and cava – so we’d like to clear things up once and for all.

If you read this blog regularly then you already know the difference, so feel free to skip this! This one is intended for newcomers to kava, who are not really too sure what it is.

What is kava?

Kava is the dried root of the piper methysticum plant, which grows all around the Pacific area. You may find it prepared as a murky-brown beverage or mixed with juices or syrup. Traditionally it is drunk out of a coconut shell but nowadays you will find it bottled and available online or on health supermarket shelves.

It can also be found in health stores in powder or capsule form, depending on where you live. Just take a look around this website to find out more.

Remember that kava is non-alcoholic, but has mild sedative properties that can help with stress, anxiety, rest, and mental clarity.

What is cava?

Cava is often called ‘Spanish Champagne’ but technically it should not be termed as such because ‘Champagne’ has Protected Geographical Status under European Law.

It is a drink that has become popular in the UK and around Europe, following in the footsteps of Prosecco, which is sometimes considered the Italian equivalent of cava.

Cava is a sparkling wine that mainly comes from Catalonia and may be white, or rose, and must be produced in the traditional champenoise way.

Interestingly, in Spain it has traditionally been consumed at celebrations like marriages, banquets, dinners and parties: just like kava!

There is certainly plenty of room on this planet for both kava and cava lovers – but be sure you are talking about the right one when it comes up in conversation!

By Zane Yoshida

Kava and Tea: Closer Than Kava and Beer?

Following on from our recent post about whether kava is a safe alternative to alcohol, we ask the question whether it would be more accurate to compare kava to a cup of tea than a beer or a glass of wine?

The similarities and differences between alcohol and kava were discussed at length in that article. So you know by now that kava is often drunk by people who want to relax or wind down, that there are health-giving properties attached to it, that there are very few after-effects of drinking it, and that it is associated with calm behaviour.

Couldn’t that equally be applied to tea drinking? Or perhaps a cup of coffee? More so than drinking alcohol, which can have the opposite effect and certainly has few health benefits?

An SBS report on kava culture in Australia referred to kava as ‘much like a cup of tea or coffee’ in Pacific Islander culture.

“Kava comes from the root of a pepper plant. It has a distinctive taste and a relaxing and slightly numbing effect. Pacific islanders enjoy sharing kava, much like a cup of tea or coffee in other cultures, but it is drunk in much larger quantities for the effect.”

Tea and coffee culture

As you can see from the image above, a traditional tea ceremony in China or Japan has many similarities to a traditional kava ceremony.

There is much emphasis on ceremony and community, with a specific way of sitting, pouring the tea, and drinking it. Cupping the bowl with both hands is just how Fijians cup the coconut shell full of kava.

You can still see the communal element of tea drinking today in much of Asia, with India, China, and Japan having large numbers of tea drinkers, as well as in the Middle East and in countries like Turkey.

In the west, the English are known for their insatiable tea-drinking appetite. Again it is a very social and hospitable drink, with the offer of a “nice cup of tea” never too far away in an English home. A family will sit around sipping tea with guests and chatting.

A coffee culture also exists in many places around the world, such as Italy, France, Brazil, parts of south-east Asia and Africa, and Australia. Again, coffee-drinking is frequently a communal experience, with a chat over a coffee a common way for people to catch up with each other.

There must be something about the mildly narcotic effects of caffeine and kavalactones that gets people talking and being more sociable!

Safety and health benefits of kava and tea/coffee

The above-mentioned SBS article refers to kava as a “health supplement for export”. The health benefits of kava are briefly discussed in the article, where our very own Zane Yoshida (founder of Taki Mai) has this to say:

“I’ve developed a kava supplement that I currently sell in the United States and Fiji through the natural food channels. This produce here is a kava supplement for taking the edge off, for relaxing,”

“As we progress with clinical trials here in Australia, we’d like to make structure function claims for relieving stress and anxiety.”

The health benefits of tea and coffee, on the other hand, are discussed in this Harvard Medical School article:

“Tea, especially green tea, is often said to be good for your health. Tea contains substances linked to a lower risk for heart disease, cancer, and diabetes“

“The main health-promoting substances in tea are polyphenols, in particular catechins and epicatechins. Lab and animal studies say these molecules have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Harvard-led studies of large groups of people over time have found that tea or coffee drinkers are at lower risk for diabetes and possibly cardiovascular disease. Coffee also contains polyphenols.”

Kava, tea and coffee could all be classed as minor narcotics for the compounds they contain. But all are widely drunk in different parts of the world as part of a communal experience; and not only are they considered safe, many consider them health-enhancing.

That is why, if you want to draw comparisons between kava and another common drink, then coffee or tea may be a more likely candidate than beer, whisky or wine.

By Zane Yoshida

Making Kava from Kava Powder

Above is a link to a video that shows you how to make a bowl of kava from kava powder. It’s like  ‘instant kava’ – so convenient to keep at home on the shelf and ready to go in a few minutes from start to finish. Mixing it is so easy anyone can do it.

Traditionally kava is made in a ceremonial mixing bowl called a ‘tanoa’ in Fiji – often a beautifully decorated one – but, as you can see in the video, when you have kava powder it can be made in practically anything.

Here the kava maker spoons eight or nine heaped tablespoonfuls into a large white mixing bowl containing water and stirs. As you can see, this makes enough for several people to enjoy – the more kava powder that goes in the stronger it is. You will need to find your own ‘level’ with the kava mix.

Fijians have been drinking kava for centuries so most have a higher tolerance to the active ‘kavalactones’ than the average westerners – so it might be a good idea to start off with a weak kava mixture and progressively add to it if required.

The kava powder is stirred in using a ladle and the ‘lumpiness’ of the mixture slowly dissolves away. Keep on stirring until all the lumps have vanished and the mixture starts to turn a murky, muddy colour.

Ideally, the end product should be a bit thicker than water, so if it is too thin, feel free to add another spoonful or two of powder – but remember to keep stirring it in.

The bowl he has produced here will serve a few people. However, if you are making just for yourself there is another way.

You can put the kava powder into a cocktail shaker and simply shake it up – this is a great way to ensure you have a supply of kava ‘on the go’ and stay ‘stress-free’ throughout the day!

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Kava Shots: Perfect For Teetotalers
It’s Kava – not Cava!
Kava and Tea: Closer Than Kava and Beer?
Making Kava from Kava Powder
5 Ways to Enjoy Kava Shots