Are Kava Tea Bags Effective?

Dear Kava Guru,

Are kava tea bags any good?

Doug,

Salem,

MA

I know of several ways to answer this question, depending on what exactly you mean by “good”; if it comes down to asking are kava tea bags effective, or do kava tea bags work, I can say without hesitation that they certainly can be quite relaxing! Like any kava beverage, getting the most out of kava tea bags lies in how you prepare them as well as making sure you have quality raw material to start with. Kava tea bags may not be as strong as fresh-brewed kava—of course, few things are!—but many people still enjoy kava tea immensely. One advantage of going the kava tea route is that these products often blend kava extract with yummy flavorings to help ease the kava newcomer into a more welcoming taste experience. After all, drinking kava shouldn’t just be about the physical effects; sensual elements such as taste, smell, and mouth feel are important too!

The most popular kava tea I know of is Yogi Tea’s “Kava Stress Relief”, which the folks over at Kava Dot Com are now offering on their marketplace! Kava Stress Relief combines kava extract (this is crucial!) with flavoring ingredients like carob pod, Indian sarsparilla, cinnamon bark, cardamom, and ginger root. Sounds tasty, right? While the Kava Guru has not yet tried Yogi’s kava tea—I prefer my kava kava “straight” if you know what I mean—apparently many people like the way the spice ingredients mellow out the earthy, peppery taste of kava. One review described it this way: “There is just a burst of amazing flavors and spices that come out of this tea. Downing something is not healthy. If you’re consuming something for everything but taste, then you’re doing it wrong. I enjoy this tea because it goes down nice and smooth and has a pleasant aftertaste.”

I absolutely agree with this philosophy when it comes to kava—or any substance with a physiological effect, such as coffee, tea, or wine. It should be about the holistic experience of consumption, in which taste, smell, and mouth feel are as important as the eventual effects. Especially with a relatively subtle herb like kava, I believe that working patiently with it rather than slamming a glass of kava hoping for an instant effect is the best way to discover kava’s many joys.

That said—do kava tea bags work? This is really the crux of any kava supplement: if you aren’t using the whole kava root but rather a capsule, powder mix or tea, you absolutely have to make sure the supplement contains a kava extract—not just the dried and powdered root. Without some form of extraction, plain powdered root will not be physiologically active. To be effective, a kava supplement product should contain at least 70 milligrams of kavalactones, the active relaxing and anxiolytic constituents of kava. According to the information I could find, Yogi tea bags contain 78 mg of a peeled kava root extract, plus 23.4 mg of a 30% kavalactone extract. Since the kava root extract itself is not 100% kavalactone (the typical range is 60-70%), this means that the maximum kavalactone content of the tea would be 78 mg, and could be in the lower range of 70.2 mg. In other words, one tea bag would contain about the minimum effective dose of kavalactones for the average person. This can definitely be an effective dose for some, but it will probably not be strong enough for others depending on each individual body’s unique tolerance. The instructions on the box even say to use two tea bags for a stronger effect if desired.

However—a weaker brew isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I don’t know about you, but in the Kava Guru’s opinion not every experience with kava has to be a 15-hour nakamal session with a hard-hitting Vanuatu brew. Kava tea bags might be the perfect option if you just want to relax of an evening, take the edge off after a stressful day, or get into a relaxed, focused state before work or to dive into a creative project. A gentle kava tea is also an excellent beverage option for those mornings when you anticipate a stressful day ahead: the lower dosage of kavalactones can lessen your anxiety while still leaving you alert.

If you decide to try kava tea bags, I’ve included a couple tips for you to get the most out of your kava tea experience. Yogi recommends pouring boiling water over 1-2 tea bags and steeping 5-10 minutes, but I would highly recommend using cooler water—the general opinion is that water heated above 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 Celsius) may degrade the kavalactones and diminish their efficacy. However, Kava Dot Com’s experiments with heating kava suggest that this temperature ceiling can be stretched a bit without harming the kavalactones, as long as you don’t actually boil the kava. What you might do is heat water to just under boiling—say, to 176 Fahrenheit/80 Celsius, the same temperature used for green tea. Especially if you add a fatty liquid such as milk during the steeping process, this temperature will be enough to extract the kavalactones so that you can get the most out of your kava tea bags!

Mahalo,

Kava Guru

23 Likes
21 Comments.
  1. Jaymie

    Really enjoyed reading this very useful information for a first timer using yogi kava stress relief tea ! Thanks:)

  2. ed

    Love kava tea. Yogi helps me sleep, something I have struggled with for about 20 years.

  3. Jason C

    I sometimes mix a strong (2 bags) brewed cup of Yogi Kava Tea with a favorite soy milk (Kirkland brand, in my case) for a tasty chai. The Kava tea bags combine well with peppermint teas as well as with the Yogi Honey Lavender.

  4. charles

    I have noticed that the Yogi tea does not have the same effect on me as it used to (namely, it does not produce any relaxation). Is there an explanation, could this be due to tolerance, or something else?

    • Kava Guru

      Charles,

      Although I love Yogi tea for the brand, their Kava Tea actually has very little Kava in it. From my experience, they used to have more Kava in their Kava tea, but it’s moved to a homeopathic dose of Kava in each teabag. Also, Kavalactones start to break down at just 140 degrees Fahrenheit, so if you put boiling water in your cup and steep a Yogi Kava Tea bag, there’s a good chance that what few Kavalactones you had, might not be there by the time you’re done steeping. Mind you, Kavalactones simply start to break down in 140 degree temperatures; they’re not instantly destroyed. So, you can always use cooler water with your tea, and simply steep longer, if you’ve got the patience.

      Hope this helps!
      Kava.Guru

  5. Evan

    How long would you recommend brewing if you are using cold or room temperature water? Do you recommend adding milk to this cold brew mix? Thanks!

    • Kava Guru

      Evan,

      Great questions! If you’re cold brewing Kava, I’ve tried 10 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour, 2 hours, 4 hours, 8 hours, and 24 hours. It turns out that the 2-4 hour mark extracts most of the Kavalactone, but it also took stirring on a regular basis to do it. And yes, adding milk does make the extraction process more effective, pushing it to the 1-2 hour mark. The easiest way to cold brew Kava is to simply to place it in a blender, especially with something like milk, coconut milk, Kava Blender, or soy lecithin. This makes it extract super efficiently in just 5 minutes or less.

      Kava.Guru

  6. Stephanie

    Could I steep my kava tea bags in cold milk for a long time? For like 12 hours or so? I just don’t want to burn off the kavalactones.

    • Kava Guru

      Stephanie,

      You sure can! The milk will draw out the Kavalactone, and 12 hours will definitely extract most of the Kavalactones from the Kava. The only problem is that there isn’t much Kava in those teabags. If you want to steep some Kava, you’d be far better off with steeping powdered Kava root inside a muslin bag or other tea infuser. That’s IF you’re looking for a Kava tea with a little kick.

      Mahalo,
      Kava.Guru

  7. Kaitlin

    I want to use Yogi’s Kava Stress Relief tea to relax; that why I bought it in the first place. But when I made myself a cup of it and tried it for the first time I absolutely could not handle the flavor. Maybe I’m just picky or I have weird taste buds, but I do not like the way it tastes at all. I thought about using one of those powdered apple cider mixes with it to see if that might help but I haven’t tried that yet. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve/mask the flavor?

    • Kava Guru

      Kaitlin,

      There is no way to cover up that rich, slightly bitter, peppery taste of Kava. I’ve spent a a great deal of time trying to make Kava more palatable, but its definitely an acquired taste. Adding vanilla really smooths out the flavor, as does honey or another sweetener. Sometimes I make my Kava overly sweet to make it pleasant enough for some palettes.

      Mahalo,
      Kava.Guru

  8. Dj

    I’m trying Yogis Kava for the first time right now. My girlfriend says it’s disgusting…lol. I actually like the flavor. An interesting, earthy, cinnamon, mix. Almost like a damp forest smell to it, but does not taste like that to me.

    • Kava Guru

      DJ,

      I like your attitude! – “interesting, earthy, cinnamon, mix” – that’s a good way to describe what is a very Earthy flavor. And yes, it can have a damp forest smell to it, but it rarely tastes that way. One thing I do know for certain is that any flavored Kava products taste little more than a desperate attempt to cover up the natural flavor of the Kava. So, at one point, I stopped getting any flavorings at all, and just learned to like the taste of Kava itself.

      And actually, I hear this quite often; people who have really disliked the taste of Kava at first (I was one of those people), often, if they’re patient, end up acquiring a taste for Kava. I never knew if I believed in “acquiring a taste” but I’m a convert as I really enjoy the peppery, spicy, earthly flavor of Kava now.

      Hope this helps and thanks for sharing!

      Keith and Kava.Guru

  9. Willa Phillips

    I seem to have a low tolerance to kava. I’ve gotten extremely bad effects from pure kava root (ie nausea, headache, super sleepy) I have wondered if I’m one of those unfortunate souls who simply can’t tolerate kava. But I’ve found that Yogi kava extract tea produces a very mellow/ focused effect. Seems to be the perfect amount of kava for me.

    • Kava Guru

      Willa,

      There are some people who are either hyper-sensitive to Kava, or have negative reactions such as nausea. When I first started enjoying Kava nearly 20 years ago, with my ultra-sensitive stomach, I would often get nausea from drinking Kava. I then tried capsules, instants, pastes, and tinctures, and found that the Kava Tinctures were far easier on my stomach for some reason. I think it’s because, when placed under my tongue, that much of it absorbs in my mouth rather than my stomach.

      Also, over time, my nausea lessened and eventually went away. I’ve heard of this happening with several people who were sensitive to Kava. I don’t know if the system gets acclimated to the Kava, but I’ve heard this more than once. Another tactic is to simply take a natural product like Nauzene with your Kava. Whenever I get occasional nausea (not just from Kava), I take 1-2 of those pink pills and it’s instant relief. Sometimes Kratom can upset stomachs, especially when mixed with Kava, and I know Nauzene is popular for that kind of nausea.

      And yes, the Yogi Tea is the best Kava tea I’ve found. It’s not strong, but you do get a sense of Kava from the tea. And, even though Kavalactones start to break down at just 140 degrees Fahrenheit, I usually make sure my water for my tea is a little cooler than usual, and I just steep the tea for a little longer.

      Thanks for sharing, and I hope this helped!

      Keith and Kava.Guru

  10. Erica

    Very helpful information!

    I’m enjoying my second mug of the Yogi Kava Stress Relief Tea…but I’d like to explore a more potent source of the Kava. I’ve also read a bit about Kratom. Do you have any suggestions as to where to buy these products in their best form? It seems like there are so many options!

    • Kava Guru

      Erica,

      Great question that I get asked A LOT. For me, the Kava Marketplace at Kava.com offers a great variety of Kava brands including Kona Kava Farm, Root of Happiness, and Bula Kava House, among others. Kratom is another story entirely. It seems that everyone with a website sells KRatom these days. For me, my money goes with ShamansGarden. They’re one of the original importers of Kratom, and have a great reputation for providing great pricing with high quality Kratom. AND, what’s perhaps even more important, is that all of their Kratom is tested by a 3rd party testing facility called Wonderland-Labs. With so much bunk, weak, and contaminated Kratom on the market these days, I think it’s important to buy Kratom from a company that’s been in business since 1999, and gets all of their products tested for safety and purity.

      That’s just my 5 cents (adjusted for inflation).

      Keith @ Kava.Guru

  11. Diana

    Excellent article and informative questions. Thank you! I like the vegan mixing options, as well!

  12. Dante

    Hello, I have a couple of questions.

    1- Are products like Gaia Herbs Kava capsules a good source of Kava Kava?
    2- Can I take Kava Kava with Guto Kola for mild anxiety?
    3- Are liver cleanses a good idea while taking Kava Kava?
    Thanks,

    • Kava Guru

      Dante,

      Great questions!

      1 – I have sent an email out to http://www.wonderland-labs.com who say they test every brand of Kava they can get their hands on. They’d know much better if there’s quality Noble Kava Root and how much in their capsules.

      2 – Kava Kava and Gotu Kola can be a great combination to help with Mild Anxiety. If you’re interested in finding pre-made blends for anxiety, Kava.com has a new “Custom Kava Blend Builder” that will allow you to find your perfect anxiety-relieving blend of Kava and herbal extracts.

      3 – Liver cleanses are a great idea when using Kava. I have personally taken a constant regimen of Milk Thistle daily for nearly 20 years. Whenever I get tested to make sure my liver is in tip top shape, I’m always at baseline. I attribute part of that to overblown hyper regarding Kava and the very very rare cases of liver damage, as well as my religious use of Milk Thistle capsules.

      Hope that helps!

      Keith @ Kava.Guru

  13. I’d like to offer my experience with the Yogi brand Stress Relief Kava tea.

    I’ve been seemingly shackled to my accidental career choice as a truck driver which I fell into 17 years ago. In fact I own my own truck and am in a lot of debt. Just yesterday, I had a bill for nearly $2,100 for a repair.

    Such things have left me very high strung, difficult to deal with, and given me a mouth that can get me into trouble.

    Then about a month ago, I was at a store in my town and picked up (on impulse) some of this Kava tea. I was already familiar with Kava having lived in Honolulu and sailed singlehanded about the South Pacific. The only time, however, I’d tried it was in pill form, years ago, and it had had no effect, so I had given it up.

    Because of my experience years ago, I opted to use two tea bags. I have an electric kettle in the truck and a large assortment of teas already.

    Having read the comments, I’ll just say I don’t know how to steep tea in cool water… so I just pour the boiling water from my kettle into my large travel mug over the two kava tea bags. Then I let it steep for 5 or 6 minutes. Then I dunk the two bags in 30 times, and discard them . I add two bags of splenda, and a squeeze of raw honey…. incidentally before I get read the riot act for using Splenda, let me just add that I prefer the taste to sugar or other sweetners, and it goes well with the raw honey.

    Anyway… what I was shocked about was how mellow I became.. i didn’t notice right away… but I’m soneone who is perhaps over analytical. For example though; things like traffic, shippers and receivers who were rude, my wife not calling me.. all of a sudden brought about a “well… that’s fine… I’m not going to let it ruin my mood” attitude. After a couple of weeks I realized for sure that it was in fact the Kava tea.

    Thjs 2,100 dollar repair.. which js going to leave me broke for a couple of weeks. I recognizes that it sucked… big time.. but rather than contemplating suicide or lashing out in anger.. i was able to see that it was a necessary repair.. and that it would be okay.

    It has made me a better man, and I’m sure my wife, company, strangers on the street, and friends appreciate it.

    I hope this helps.

    Robin

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