Dear Kava Guru,
What is the strongest Kava?
San Bernardino, CA
This is a question I’ve been asked perhaps over 100 times, but I apologize that it took me until now to get around to answering it. This is really a 2-part question in my mind. There’s “What is the strongest Kava?” and “What is the strongest Kava product?“.
Why the distinction?
Well, most of us even somewhat familiar with Kava know that, in it’s natural, non-extracted state, Kava powder has about an 8% – 14% Kavalactone content. From years of working with Kava and looking through many hundreds of lab tests on Kava, I would say that one average, there’s about a 10%-12% Kavalactone content. Some of the mellow roots from Samoa or Fiji, tend to have slightly less, perhaps 6% – 8%. Some of the more potent strains are often from Hawaii or Vanuatu, and can have as much as 16% – 18% Kavalactone content. Is this strong? I would say that shells of Kava are plenty strong, and after consuming Kava almost daily for the past 20 years, I still only need 3-4 shells of Kava to get myself to the relaxed and sociable state. I’ve seen newbies need only a single shell, and they’re good for at least 1-2 hours.
But, this all also really depends on the BLEND that your Kava supplier is selling you:
Kava is typically sold as two separate parts; there are “chips” and there are “roots”. Chips are just the main “stump” of Kava root that can get quite thick and large on a mature Kava plant. These tend to be very smooth drinking, but they also tend to be much lower in Kavalactone content. Laterals on the other hand, are the actual “roots” of the Kava in the way we all imagine roots. These tend to have a much higher Kavalactone content, but they also are a little harsher to drink.
That’s why the perfect Kava drink usually comes from a blend of chips and roots, to arrive at a relatively potent Kava drink, that’s smooth to drink. We usually see about a 50/50 blend of chips to roots, but that can vary depending on the Kava Bar or supplier. If there’s a higher blend of laterals to chips, then the drink is less smooth, but it’s a stronger Kava drink in general. Personal preference is what it comes down to when seeking the strongest Kava product available, as stronger isn’t necessarily always better.
Next up is Part II of the original question; “What is the strongest Kava product?”
Up until a couple of weeks ago, this was a simple question to answer; Kavalactone Oil or Kavalactone Paste is definitely the strongest Kava product available. Whether it’s a 70% concentration that we’ve seen at Root of Happiness, or the 55% that we’ve seen at Kava.com, this is the most bang for your buck. But, it’s not for beginners, and it’s extremely easy to be fooled into taking too much of a good thing.
Now, I did say that this USED to be a simple answer, because there was really just one King of the Hill Kava Product, which is the Kavalactone Paste. But, I was just handed a new product from Kona Kava Farm called “Kava Tincture MAX 12%”. Now, this isn’t a product review, but since that product is unique to the Kava marketplace, I can’t fully answer this question without mentioning this product by name. I could say that a 12% Liquid Kava Extract is the strongest product I’ve been able to find, but to me, that’s splitting hairs.
So, how exactly can something that says 12% be anywhere near as strong as something that says 55% or 70%?
It all has to do with the format of the product. With the Kona Kava Farm Kava Tincture MAX, the package states that just 2 dropperfuls contain nearly an entire day’s supply of Kavalactone. Because it’s so easy to place two dropperfuls in the mouth, because it absorbs so easily when placed under the tongue, I’ve noticed quite a difference in effect. The liquid comes on much more quickly. The numbing of the mouth is very immediate and dramatic. And, the change in my state of being happens quite quickly. The paste has more dissolving and breaking down to do, whereas the Kava Tincture is already in liquid form, ready to be absorbed in the mouth, especially in the soft tissue in the mouth that’s made for absorbing food.
So, when discussing what the strongest Kava is, I would say that Kava powder with a blend that’s more laterals than chips, and is from Vanuatu or Hawaii might be your best bet. But, it’s also important to note that the numbers aren’t everything. I’ve found that Fijian Kava ay have less Kavalactone percentage, but it’s an extremely enjoyable drink, with slightly different psychoactive effects to it.
When we’re asking what the strongest Kava product is, I would say that Kona Kava Farm’s Kava Tincture MAX 12% takes the top spot. Mind you, the Kavalactone Pastes that are available, whatever the strength, are extremely close in the long run, and after a few minutes. But, from a sheer “strongest” perspective, if I’m thinking of immediate effects, would be the liquid.
One thing to note before I go, though, is that everything has a price:
Although the new Kava Tincture MAX has a more immediate effect, it does seem to wear off a little more quickly than the Kavalactone Pastes and Oils. This means you may have to go beyond the recommended daily dose in order to keep that state of mind you are enjoying. Shells of Kava on the other hand, with perhaps 120mg of Kavalactone each in them, can be enjoyed with friends over a few hours. The pleasant sensations are very easy to regulate and keep at an even keel.
It’s really up to personal preference, though, and as long as you’re enjoying Kava responsibly, I say explore and seek the peace in this plant of peace, whatever strength you decide is right for you.
Peace & Mischief,