Kava Tea

KAVA TEA: INTRO

Kava tea is a popular herbal tea that is consumed all over the world.  The popularity of this amazing tea can be attributed to its powerful health benefits including reduced anxiety and improved mood.  The tea is primarily made using the roots of the kava plant, Piper methysticum.  This plant is so widespread, it has several different names including: Piper methysticum, Kava-Kava, ‘awa, yaqona, and Kawa.  It is a plant that’s roots are used in making a tea-like substance. Many different cultures have consumed this tea for centuries including South Pacific Islanders, and this herbal tea continues to be consumed as a social, ceremonial, religious, and medicinal drink.

Before Consuming Kava Tea

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I highly recommend speaking with a healthcare professional prior to consuming any forms of herbal tea including kava tea.  This form of herbal tea is generally considered safe to consume in moderate amounts, but it may interact with certain prescription and OTC medications including anxiety meds.  You should never consume kava tea with alcohol, because it may lead to dangerous sedative effects.  Clearing consumption of this herbal tea with your doctor ahead of time can help avoid possible health issues.

KAVA TEA GUIDE

kava tea guide

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This guide is dedicated to informing you about the wonderful kava tea.  I include plant info, history, benefits, flavor, and two recipes.  If you are having issues with anxiety, mild depressionI hope you learn more about this wonderful tea, and that you have fun in the process!

Kava Tea Plant Info

The kava plant (P. methysticum) is a tropical shrub that belongs to the pepper family. In fact, Piper methysticum actually means intoxicating pepper. The western Pacific shrub grows to about 10 feet tall and spawns heart shaped leaves of up to 10 inches wide. As stated above, the part of the plant that is used to make kava tea and for other medicinal and culinary purposes is the root and underground part of the plant.  The roots of the plant derive their power from active ingredients called kavalactones. These kavalactones produce the sedative and anxiety and stress reducing effects of the herbal tea.

kava tea history

The kava plant (P. methysticum) has historically been grown solely in Pacific islands including Hawaii (flag pictured above). The islands argue about which one grows the best kava, but the ”home” of kava is generally regarded as the Republic of Vanuatu.  This island is contains the largest variety of kava strains. The kava plants cannot reproduce sexually, so they are grown and cultivated solely by cutting the stems.  The best roots are usually harvested from plants that are at least four years old.  This is due to the fact that older plants have a higher concentration of kavalactones.

kava tea info

The kava plant strains fall into two distinct categories.  These categories are “noble” and “non-noble.”  The strains that are included in kava tea and listed on this site are all included in the noble category.  The noble strains are more popular because they contain more benefits and lower negative side effects. Their roots have increased kavalactone content and the subsequent tea doesn’t cause nausea or hangovers like the non-noble strains.  I honestly do not know why anyone would ever want to consume non-noble, but maybe you are the kind of person that likes hangovers.

Kava Tea History/General Facts

It’s well known to Oceana region as it was heavily used to celebrate births, deaths and welcome honored guests.

To be effective as a relaxant and to have any physiological effect, your kava must contain kavalactones. These are contained in the root of the plant and powdered root just won’t contain it. There needs to be an extraction process whereby at least 70 milligrams of kavalactones make their way into your supplement or tea in order for you to feel the effects. This of course will vary between each person, considering tolerance levels. Kava can be found in tinctures, powders, pills, and teas.

For tea, it is recommended that you do not pour boiling water over your teabags. It can degrade the kavalactones. A water temperature of 140 degrees (60 degrees Celsius) is the optimum temperature in which to brew your tea. As long as you don’t actually boil your kava your temperature ceiling can be stretched a bit. Try boiling your water and turning it off for a minute and then pouring it over your teabags. Allow the kava tea to steep 5-10 minutes before enjoying.

As with any herbal or prescription that may cause sedation or relaxation, you should be safe and not drive. It may cause impairment in your ability to operate heavy machinery as well as driving ability. This is due to its tranquilizing and relaxation effects that can take away your ability to act on a moments notice. Be safe, when enjoying a kava beverage, don’t drive.

Kava Tea Benefits

Kava tea is extremely popular because of its powerful benefits.  This herbal tea has many health benefits, including both psychological and physical.  Some of the benefits also include lower risks for serious diseases and medical conditions.  This tea is well-regarded as a stress and anxiety reducer.  I personally consume kava tea for this purpose.  I always recommend consulting with you doctor or healthcare professional prior to consuming any forms of herbal tea, and this includes kava tea.

  • Cancer – kava tea extract has been found to act against breast and colon cancer and keep breast cancer from metastasizing.
  • Anxiety – kava tea was shown in studies to be effective in treating anxiety.
  • Stress – This is closely related to anxiety.  Consuming this tea can help individuals tolerate stressful situations much easier.
  • Insomnia – Kava tea is a relaxant and was shown in a study to enhance sleep quality effects.
  • Colds – Kava tea was traditionally used to treat the common cold by inducing sweating.
  • Asthma – kava tea is a central nervous system depressant and anti-spasmodic which was used to treat asthma.
  • Muscles and Pain – kava tea contains kavalactones which reduce convulsions and contain pain relieving properties.
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – kava tea promotes relaxation and sleep, and acts as an anti-anxiety agent.
  • Urinary Tract – kava tea is a mild diuretic, assisting in treating the symptoms of urinary tract issues.
  • Depression – kava tea has been used to replace benzodiazepines as an antidepressant, as it is said to elevate mood.
  • Menopause – kava tea is able to treat the symptoms of anxiety, depression, irritability and insomnia that go along with menopause. One study also found that it may positively affect libido in women.

Kava Tea Flavor

Kava tea has a flavor that is generally categorized and described as “earthy.”. The flavor isn’t particularly strong, but it may take some time to get used to. Many of the tea blends and tea bags that contain kava also include other flavors that help make the taste more pleasant.  Some of these flavors and tea blends may include cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger root.  Many herbal teas have an earthy taste, and it actually lets me know that I am most likely consuming fresh plants that have potentially strong health benefits.  I suggest adding sweeteners if you are having issues with the flavor of kava tea.  There are so many different ways to prepare kava tea; you just need to modify a recipe to fit your unique taste and needs.  Feel free to contact me for recipe and ingredient ideas!

Kava Recipe

Kava kava was traditionally imbibed as a cold infusion. Kava root was made into a drink by chewing up the root and spitting it into a bowl and mixing it with coconut or water. Today, it is prepared by grinding, grating, or pounding the roots of the plant and soaking them in cold water or coconut milk.

Basic Blender Kava Tea

Ingredients:

2-4 tablespoons of Kava powder

1 cup of water per serving

(Substitute steeping 1-2 tea bags in 1 cup of hot water for at least 10 minutes)

Steps:

Add the water and kava to the blender. Blend on high for 3-4 minutes. Pour the mixture through a fine strainer such as cheesecloth, muslin bag or fine mesh strainer. Squeeze out the liquid into a bowl. Discard the pulp.

Additional Options:

Honey Kava – Add 1-2 tablespoons of honey and ice to the Basic Blender Kava liquid and blend again.

Black Russian – Add ¼ cup of chocolate syrup and some milk to Basic Blender Kava liquid and blend again.

The Veggie – Add any vegetable juice to the Basic Blender Kava and blend again.

The Fruit – Add any fruit juice to the Basic Blender Kava and blend again.

Kava Fruit Shake

Ingredients:

4-6 cups of your favorite blend of frozen fruits (peaches, strawberries, cherries, huckleberries, blueberries, etc.)

¼ – ½ cup of half-and-half

5 tbsp of sugar (granulated or brown)

4-6 tablespoons Kava root powder or 2-3 tablespoons of Super Instant Kava

(Substitute steeping 2-3 tea bags in 1 cup of hot water for 10 minutes)

Steps:

Blend all ingredients together, adding kava last.  Add water slowly if the blender is having problems with the dried fruit.  Add more creamer, water, and sugar to desired taste and consistency.

*Makes about a quart of shake, depending on how much of each ingredient added.

Breakfast Shake:  Try blending in some protein powder in the mornings. 

Kava Tea Side Effects

Kava tea is generally regarded as a safe herbal tea with a low risk of side effects when consumed at moderate amounts.  There are still some potentially serious side effects, especially when consumption is combined with powerful prescription medications that cause interactions.  This is why I recommend speaking with your healthcare provider, especially if you are currently prescribed anxiety medications or you have prescriptions with sedative effects.

The World Health Organization has found that kava in its traditional form presents a low-level risk. In fact, one study suggests the reason for liver toxicity in some who drank kava was because they got part of the plant into their mixture. Consumption of kava in poor quality or with solvents have been linked to adverse health outcomes.

  • Pregnancy – kava tea should be avoided during pregnancy, as it may weaken the muscles in the uterus.
  • Breastfeeding – kava tea may pass on to your baby in breast milk. Avoid drinking it while breastfeeding.
  • Severe Depression – kava tea has been shown to boost mood for individuals suffering from mild depression.  You should speak with your doctor if you have severe depression.
  • Liver Health – some non-noble forms of kava tea in extremely high does may cause liver complications.  Always consume kava in moderate amounts
  • Drug Interactions – kava tea interacts with common drugs that are broken down by CYP450 enzymes such as: amitriptyline, propranolol, morphine, beta-blockers, diazepam, caffeine, to name just a few. These are drugs that treat infections, anxiety or depression, asthma or allergies, cancer, diabetes, erectile disfunction, GERD, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart conditions, migraine headaches, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune disease, psychiatric disorders, seizures. This is not a complete list, please check with your healthcare provider.
  • Driving – kava may make some individual sdrowsy.  These people should not drive or operate heavy machinery after consuming kava tea.
  • Other high dose side effects – headache, dizziness, drowsiness, fatigue, depression, mild stomach discomfort, diarrhea

You have a great chance of avoiding these side effects if you use common sense and speak with your healthcare provider.

Kava Tea: Buy the Best

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KAVA TEA: CONCLUSION

I hope that this Kava Tea Ultimate Guide has helped you learn more about this wonderful tea.  It derives its power from the kavalactones found in the roots of the kava plant, which is native to the pacific islands.  The primary benefits from this tea include relaxation and a reduction in anxiety and stress.  It also boosts mood and can help insomnia.  You should definitely try this form of herbal tea, especially if you are having issues with stress or having trouble sleeping.

You should always consult your healthcare provider prior to consuming herbal tea such as kava.  This is generally regarded as a safe tea, but it may interact with certain prescription medications including sedatives.  If you find that kava makes you drowsy, you should avoid driving or operating machinery.  You should also avoid if you are pregnant or nursing.

Kava Tea: Comments

Do you enjoy Kava Tea?  Do you have any fun facts or tips?  Please share your knowledge and experiences in the Comments section below.  Feel free to contact me with any comments are questions that you do not want to post publicly.

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