Rugby Teams Love Kava

Rugby Teams and KavaKava’s healing charm is picking up speed and working its way out of South Pacific islands and into other nations as rugby teams love Kava:  Members of New Zealand professional rugby teams, such as the Warriors, Kiwis, and the Chiefs, swear by the beneficial and healing powers of Kava.

As the legalities surrounding the consumption of alcohol and other mind-altering substances are tightened for professional sport teams, some members of these teams are turning to  alternatives.  Prior to discovering Kava, some team members had turned to mixing pharmaceuticals with energy drinks to induce a similar effect to alcohol.  But many of those who have found or been introduced to kava – have discovered how it makes for such a wonderful and healthy alternative to all of those toxic and harmful substances.

Some team members actually prefer kava kava to alcohol and other substances altogether – stating that it doesn’t have the same negative effects as alcohol.

I’m so happy people have been given the opportunity to experience how Kava is such a wonderful alternative to drinking alcohol – nothing brings me more joy than blooming interest in the wonder of Kava.  Did you know that Kava is so highly valued over alcohol in some parts of the world that it is actually being used in therapy to help alcoholics heal from alcoholism!? So, people aren’t just using Kava as an alternative to alcohol, but are actually using it to heal from the damage that alcohol can cause.

“It’s a better choice to alcohol.  If you drink alcohol it’s going to take three days to recover and you’re dehydrated…” says Ruban Wiki, one of the Kiwi’s very successful players.

Wiki is thankful that he had been introduced to Kava by Fijian teammates earlier on in his rugby career: “I’ve been associated with kava for a long time and it has done me wonders”.  Ruban Wiki swears by the benefits and long term healing powers of Kava, and speaks of how he accredits Kava for his long and successful career; Wiki has had 55 tests and 312 first-grade games as a player for the Kiwi’s.

Other players, such as Manu Vatuvei, also testify to the healing benefits that Kava bestows upon its receivers: “it’s very relaxing and gives me a good nights sleep.  If you have a few aches and pains, they go away”.

And to make the story even better, many teams that use Kava have even created mandatory “Kava sessions” which members of these teams are required to attend.  I cannot tell you how pleased I am to hear this – not only is Kava being experienced, but its warm and social tradition is also being maintained! Traditionally Kava is used as a social and ceremonial substance to honour achievements and create relaxing and joyful social gatherings, much like the “Kava sessions” these teams have created. As Matt Elliott of the New Zealand Warriors says, “we sit around in a chilled environment… a controlled and family environment”.

Just about the only thing the team members have to say about Kava that isn’t about how in love they are with it – is just plainly that it tastes bad, as Simon Mannering of the Warriors suggests.   I would personally tell Mannering about all of the wonderful Kava recipes there are to concoct his favourite flavours with Kava, so that he doesn’t have to miss out on all the wonderful things his fellow team mates are experiencing with Kava!

Source:

The New Zealand Herald – League: Kava Sessions Liquid Gold for Warriors

Confiscation of Kava Shipment

FRCA Confiscation of KavaIf you’ve gotten wind of the recent confiscation of a kava shipment at the Nadi International Airport – never fear – it turned out not to be kava! Sadly, the shipment was actually proven to be cocaine.

The shipment of what was wrongly labeled as kava kava, had originally been exported to China. It was then returned or re-exported back to one of the kava dealers in the Fiji local.  Perhaps this kava dealer is involved? I certainly hope not!  But, that’s certainly something to be wary of when shopping for your preferred kava vendor – this can be a reminder to us all to do our research before choosing where to buy our kava or anything at all for that matter!

The Biosecurity Authority of Fiji (BAF) – responsible for monitoring bioshipments coming through the airport – became suspicious after noticing discrepancies in the Biosecurity Phytosanitary Certificate.  The BAF brought their suspicions to the attention of the customs authority at the Nadi International Airport and unfortunately their suspicions ended up being correct. The initial test that the Customs Officers performed on the shipment proved positive for cocaine and was confiscated by the Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority (FRCA) on 25/03/2014.

One thing that certainly is reassuring about this case however, is that we have authorities like the BAF to monitor things coming in and out of airports that kava shipments are going through – this gives me the feeling that kava can safely travel overseas to benefit everyone far and wide!

At this point, further investigations are still being made by the police to determine just exactly who was involved and the other horrible details.

It’s terrible that cases like this are tainting the image of kava and tampering with its positive purpose – but, fortunately this case was publicized and all can see that our beloved kava is still just as beautifully pure as always.

Source: FRCA Confiscation of Kava Shipment

Kava Recipe – French Press Kava

Kava Recipe - French Press KavaThis is a simple Kava recipe that has worked amazingly well for me, and I thought I would share it with you:

1. Take 6 to 8 tablespoons of kava powder and place in a FRENCH PRESS COFFEE MAKER.

2. Add cold water and stir.

3. Let it sit for about 20 minutes till it starts to settle to the bottom.

4. Press down the French press plunger until it will go no farther (slow steady pressure), then pour off the clear, pure, very potent drink.

5. Raise the plunger, add some more water, and repeat until the drink is too weak to have any numbing effect on the tongue.

This is a great way to make ‘awa for a small group or keep it available for multiple doses (keep it in the fridge).  I have kept it for up to a week, and the Kava tasted just as it did the first day I made it, and had the same kick.

Try it. I think you’ll like it.

Aloha,
Robert

Kava Recipe – Kava Chameleon

Kava Recipe - Kava ChameleonLet me first say that this drink is both strong and can be very spicy, so if you prefer a milder-tasting drink (or a spicier one), you can adjust the spices to your own preference; I also like this recipe a lot because, even cold, it is a great relaxing drink for a night when you would enjoy a warm cup of tea.

Ingredients:

6 tbsp kava (powdered or shredded kava both work great, but shredded is what I prefer)

2 cups purified/spring water

1 cup soy or rice milk (chocolate is especially good in this recipe)

a few mint sprigs to taste (I use a large pinch per recipe)

1/2 tsp cinnamon

ginger to taste (optional)

Preparation:

In a blender, pour in the kava, water, soy milk and cinnamon and turn the blender on for just a few seconds to stir the ingredients, then let sit for about 30 minutes. This is the reason I prefer shredded kava: the cinnamon seems to either pull out more kavalactones, or just adds a greater effect to the kavalactones that make them even more relaxing (also note that if using powdered kava, you really only need to let the mixture sit for about 15 minutes).

After these ingredients have steeped long enough, turn the blender on high and leave on for about 3 minutes, then add the mint and ginger if desired. Blend for another minute or two. Then you can either choose to strain the kava into a cup with a muslin bag or leave the kava in and just drink everything to ensure that no kavalactones are missed. This recipe is very strong; if you are not experienced with kava, either use less kava, do not drink all of it at once, or share it with a friend.

Kava Recipe – Very Strong Kava

Kava Recipe - Very Strong KavaHere is a method I have developed which seems to work quite all right. Occasionally it can be a bit strong, so drink it slowly over some time (1 cup over 20 minutes or more).

(6) 2/3 tbsp kava

2 cups warm water–140 degrees Fahreheit or so… I boil it and let it cool for a bit (5 minutes)

1 cup milk

Blend on highest setting in a blender for 5 minutes. At this point, the beverage should look very dark, like coffee with cream. Dump this into secondary container(s). Then put a cloth paint strainer (unused for paint *wink*) over the blender pitcher. Pour the kava mix back into the blender-pitcher through the strainer, and let it cool for a bit. Squeeze the strainer dry, and save the used kava root (if you care to). You can get these paint strainers at Home Depot for maybe 60-80 cents a strainer. Very inexpensive, and it’s the best straining method I’ve used so far.

Now you have some fairly strong kava sitting in your blender pitcher. At this point I usually add a lot of chocolate syrup and some sugar (about 3-6 tbsp) for palatability. Blend again for ~30 seconds, until it is very dark and well mixed. Then transfer it to another container if you need to, and let it cool in the fridge overnight. Letting it cool works best for me in terms of effect. I have no idea why this is the case…does anyone know?

Next morning, you will have a good deal of strong kava (about 3 cups of liquid). Drink it slow, like I said. This will definitely bring on effects that I can only describe as inebriating. If drunk too quickly, it can be rather strong to say the least, so please consume in moderation.

When used with respect, though, I can say the effects are very nice. In any event, use caution and common sense, and don’t necessarily start with the amount I’ve used.

Take care,
Big Kap

If you have any great Kava recipes, please let us know.  If we like it we will post your idea and/or recipe and send off a free package of 4oz Powdered Kava Root from any one of the Kava suppliers we list or review here as a personal “Thank you!” to you.

Kava Recipe – Coconut Milk Kava

Kava Recipe - Coconut Milk KavaThis is a “new” kava recipe that I have heard alluded to but have never actually found. After some experimenting, I think I have found an efficient way to make a strong kava brew with some taste to it, and hopefully which maintains the traditional spirit.

1. Mix anywhere from 1/2 oz – 2 oz powdered kava root (depending on the number of consumers and the desired strength of the brew) with 1 can coconut milk, then fill can with water and add it, also. I have also used a can of coconut juice (sweetened water with chunks of coconut) instead of water with excellent results. Coconut definitely helps lessen the bitter-soil taste of kava without overpowering the characteristic “kava” taste.

2. Blend intermittently in short bursts for about 5 minutes. I believe the longer you blend the pulp, the more kavalactones are released.

3. Pour into nylon stocking or other strainer and wring out into large kava bowl (there will be a thick white emulsion that I call “Kava Butter”; I believe this is potent stuff and try to scrape all of it off of the strainer, but its texture can make it a little bit tough to gulp down from the cup.) Make sure to wring as much liquid from the pulp mass as possible, but take care not to tear the strainer (important for nylon hose).

4. This should make about 2-3 coconut shells or coffee cups of kava, which can be drunk in 1/2 cup increments. Personally I prefer to knock back 1-2 shells/cups quickly and then relax in a dimly lit room and enjoy that warm, relaxed feeling.

5. Pour the kava from the strainer back into the blender (especially if you used a larger amount). Even though traditionally kava is not kept but rather consumed immediately, I have found that it keeps for a day or two in the refrigerator and since I use 2 oz at a sitting, I generally get 2-3 batches out of this amount. You can also start with a smaller amount (1/2 oz) and save it and add another 1/2 oz per batch.

6. Finally, the amounts above are guidelines. I find 1/2 an ounce to be a rather small amount for me (200+ lbs.), but it would probably be fine for a smaller person. If I were having a gathering in which several people were going to partake, I may use even 3 or 4 oz, depending on the type of heaviness I wanted the brew to invoke.

I hope you find this recipe idea tasty and effective.

Bright blessings,
Doug

If you have any great Kava recipes, please let us know.  If we like it we will post your idea and/or recipe and send off a free package of 4oz Powdered Kava Root from any one of the Kava suppliers we list or review here as a personal “Thank you!” to you.

What is the Mythical Origin of Kava?

What is the Mythical Origin of Kava?Before there was Piper methysticum (domesticated kava kava), there was Piper wichmannii – the beautifully original form of the Kava kava plant – wild and perfectly untouched by human contact or cultivation.  We can imagine a tropical world totally innocent of discovery, a world void of commercial extraction and consumption, a world where humans hadn’t yet arrived – or evolved – and the work of spiritual beings was at play.  We can envision spiritual entities that created a fantastical set of islands, populated by creatures and botanical beauty not even imaginable to our human minds – islands where Piper wichmannii was divinely placed to sit and await the fate of her discovery, when the mortals of human kind would be graced with the gift of Kava kava and the origin of kava to be born.

My guru insight tells me that Piper wichmannii very likely evolved alongside many other wild plants whose exact origins are unknown, and it is likely a member of a very long line of botanical ancestry that is quite difficult to trace.  Exact knowledge as to where the alluring Kava kava first originated pretty well escapes historical records.  In order to reconstruct a coherent historical account as to the exact mythological origin (probably usage origin as well) of kava, we are dependent upon antiquated and mythical accounts of Piper methysticum’s wild sister – Piper wichmannii.

Fortunately, Tongan and Vanuatu mythology is rife with tales of Kava’s spiritual and ancestral origins.  There are two conceptually different strains of mythology with regard to the origin of kava kava: the external and local.  The external tales tell of how Piper wichmannii was graced upon the South Pacific peoples by a godly and heroic entity that brought it from a spiritual or far off earthly realm, with varying tales of just who this heroic spirit was or just what exactly happened; whereas the local tales tell the story of the ancestral usage or the cultivation of kava kava [2, p. 14-15].

Mythological accounts of Kava (or the external and local mythological stories) are meant to provide an understanding of the physical origin of Kava kava and its use  – the mythological answer to the question of where Kava came from.  These external tales are brimming with heroism and spiritual beings that are held in the highest esteem for gracing mortal creatures with the gift of the Kava plant.  Many of these folk tales revolve around conceptual structures of life and death, where kava is often idealized as the bringer of life [2, p. 14-15].

One such Tongan legend is of the origin of kingship and is thought to symbolically refer to the origin of Kava itself; it can be categorized as an external account.  It tells of a spiritual entity having intercourse with a female mortal being who then gives birth to a half-god son named Aho eito.  The son, eager to meet with his divine father, climbs an incredibly tall ironwood tree and is met by his father who mistakes him for a spiritual being that is even greater than himself.  The father brings the son to meet his half-brothers who become incessantly jealous of his beauty and received admiration.  The divine siblings then rip Aho eito to pieces and proceed to consume him.  The father suspects what the other sons had done to Aho eito and has them vomit into a bowl.  The vomit is then submersed in water and Aho eito slowly emerges as a whole and living being once again.  The father then sends Aho eito to earth to be the first Tu i Tonga, or king of Tonga [1, p. 287-288].

The vomiting into the bowl by the brothers of Aho eito is thought to symbolically represent the chewing of Kava that is then communally spit into a bowl and mixed with water [1, p. 288].  The resultant Kava drink is then traditionally consumed during ceremonies, often during the installment of chiefs and other cultural heads [3, p. 109-110].  The traditional uses of Kava kava do seem to outline a theme that is similar to the death and rebirth of Aho eito who is eaten and then spit up, mixed with water and reborn as a king on earth, just as the kava plant is traditionally used.

Another such external tale tells of the deity Tagaloa Ui who happens upon the house of the mortal chief Pava while wandering through a field of Kava.  At Pava’s home the first mortal ceremony involving Kava is held.   Pava’s son is rambunctiously running about and making noise and Tagaloa Ui asks Pava to quiet his son.  Pava does not obey and the boy’s behavior continues until Tagaloa Ui cuts the boy into two pieces using a coconut frond that has been formed into a knife.  The deity then instructs Pava to eat his boy and Pava declines.  The deity then uses kava from his mountain home to create a drink that is poured over the pieces of Pava’s boy, while he says “Soifua (life)”, and the boy is then brought back to life.  Again, we can see the theme of divine and mortal interplay interwoven with death, life and high social positions [2, p. 13].

Accounts of the local origins of Kava tell fantastic tales of how the plant was first discovered, grown and used by the South Pacific island peoples.  These local tales are often sexualized and there is frequently a prominent female presence; this presence can manifest in the tales in several forms, such as symbolically as a female sexual organ or as female creatures (human or otherwise).

One such local tale is interwoven with the mythology of the external origin of Kava as having come from a divine hero – which highlights the interconnectedness and consistency of Kava mythology.  This story begins with the hero Mwatiktiki on Tanna – an island in Vanuatu.  Mwatiktiki arrives on Tanna with a Kava plant, which he hides between rocks near the shore.  Two female ancestors of the Tanna people go to the shore with yams and begin to peel the yams there.  One of the women is surprised, as she is squatting in the grass, by the presence of the Kava plant on and within her nether regions – the plant is meant to be a phallic representation. The Kava root had sprouted and risen up, penetrating the women – bringing her much enjoyment. The women pull the wild plant out from between the rocks where Mwatiktiki had hid it and bring it back to their garden in Isouragi – their home – where they presumably began to cultivate it and spread its pleasurable benefits [2, p. 13].

Another local tale tells of the burial of a sister by her brother after the brother had tried to protect her from a suitor she had refused to be with.  The suitor shoots an arrow intended for the brother, misses and kills the sister.  The boy buries his sister and within a week an unusual plant that he hasn’t ever seen before sprouts from the grave of his sister.  At first he leaves the plant alone for quite some time.  One day when he is mourning the death of his sister at the site of her burial he notices a rat nibbling on the plant.  The rat shortly dies.  After observing what happened to the rat the boy, unable to bear the death of his sister any longer, decides to kill himself by eating the plant.  Something unexpected happens.  Rather than dying the boy is rejuvenated, filled with life and happiness.  He forgets his misery and comes back to consume the plant and rejoice and goes on to share the plant with many others [2, p. 12] Once again, we can see how the theme of an external spiritual origin of the kava plant and an adaptation of the central themes of life and death, are woven throughout this tale.

Although we do not presently dwell in these mythical worlds, and may never have dwelt in these worlds – they nonetheless paint a historical account of Kava similar to how religious books might construct a historical account of various religious developments; namely, through symbolic story telling.  These folk accounts can be pieced together to construct an understanding of how aspects of kava culture and tradition began.  Whether these tales give an accurate account of how Piper wichmannii first came to be on this earthy rock of ours, is something that goes beyond my guru wisdom.  But one thing can be said for certain: Piper wichmannii was discovered a long, long time ago in a far-off South Pacific island, amongst creatures and botanical entities too wonderful to comprehend. A mythical legacy thus began and is sure to be carried on for many upon many generations of islanders to come…

Mahalo,

Kava Guru

REFERENCES

1. James, K.E. “The Female Presence in Heavenly Places: Myth and Sovereignty in Tonga”. Wiley and Oceania Publications: June 1991. Oceania, Vol. 61, 4 pp.287-308.

2. Singh, Yadhu N. “Kava: from ethnology to pharmacology”. Taylor and Francis LTD: 2004.

3. Singh, Yadhu N. “Kava: An Old Drug in a New World”. University of Minnesota Press: winter of 2009. Cultural Critique, No. 71 pp. 107-128.