Kona Kava

by Makaira on May 14, 2012

Kona Kava Like the famous Hawaiian-grown Kona coffee, Kona kava is also becoming popular both in its home state and worldwide due to its smooth taste and reliable, surprisingly potent effects. Small family-owned kava farms such as the eponymous Kona Kava Farm, one of our personal favorite vendors, grow and ship kava from Kona and the surrounding area to meet demand on the Big Island, the United States and worldwide. Today, Kona kava vendors have built up a healthy reputation for having some of the most effective and palatable kava around.

Kona Kava Farm is located on the verdant slopes of the Hualalai Mountains just outside Kona, a fertile region that offers primo volcanic soil and a warm, moist microclimate conducive for growing kava. This prosperous area also has long supported growers of coffee and macadamia nuts, two other valuable Hawaiian crops. Some of the oldest family farms have a history of ownership going back generations; in some cases before the Hawaiian Islands became a United States territory. The micronutrient-rich soil of the Hualalai range is so nutritious that it eliminates the need for fertilizers and pesticides, allowing Kona kava farmers to turn out an organic product at lower cost than in other kava-growing regions.

Kona kava farmers have been providing the world with lovingly grown organic kava for years, often from plants that are decades old, which if you know your kava makes for quite a high concentration of potent kavalactones in their roots! By carefully sun-drying the lateral roots (known to be the best-tasting and most potent part of the plant), small-batch Kona kava farms have also managed to create an unexpectedly palatable version of kava: root extracts and powders from kava plants grown on Kona farmland often taste earthy and slightly sweet in our experience, with no bitterness at all. We like it fine just mixed into a little water, or milk if you prefer a richer flavor.

So, how does the kava Kona farmland turns out differ from kava grown elsewhere? Kava is thought to have originated somewhere in the Pacific Islands— possibly Vanuatu, which is often cited as the island that has the greatest diversity of kava, and also produces some of the most potent kava available. However, Hawaiian strains such as Kona kava tend to be sweeter due to the unique ratio of kavalactones found in Hawaiian varieties. Furthermore, many kavasseurs we’ve spoken to attest they find Kona kava just as potent as Vanuatu kava, as well as being a lot more palatable.

If you’ve ever been to a kava bar in the United States, or ordered from a U.S.-based vendor, chances are you’ve already had some experience with the kava kava Hawaii grows— and for some users, there’s no need to try kava from any father afield! Users often decide they prefer Hawaiian “awa” to other strains of kava because it combines a milder flavor with stronger effects than some South Pacific kava strains. While potent, Vanuatu kava can often be strongly bitter, definitely not an easy brew to swallow for a kava first-timer. Furthermore, some strains of kava may taste milder but have diminished effects: for instance, studies on Fijian kava suggest that this strain produces roots with a lower concentration of kavain and dihydrokavain, two kavalactones that play a central role in generating kava’s powerful anxiolytic action.

In contrast, with organic Kona kava, you’ll get the best of both worlds: a high-potency and palatable (even tasty!) strain of kava shipped right to you from the lush mountains of the 50th state! Whether you prefer the whole dried root, a convenient drink mix or tincture form, or even if you want to try out the ultra-potent luxury grade “waka” kava, Kona kava vendors can provide!

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