How to Prepare Kava

Making a drink from dried 'awa. The drink is made traditionally in many Pacific island cultures by straining the dried 'awa powder in water. Here in Hawai'i, the strainer is often a nylon stocking or cheesecloth shaped into a bag.

Figure on 1 to 2 ounces of powder per person, depending on the strength of the 'awa. Place the powder into the strainer bag, hold its edges together at the top with your hand so that none of the whole powder escapes, and immerse the bag into a bowl of cool water. The amount of water will vary according to individual taste, but a good rule of thumb is an ounce of good 'awa to a quart of water.

Use your other hand to knead the bulk of powder under the water, as you would dough. If the 'awa has a high Kavalactone content, it will feel oily, almost like a ball of greasy clay. This is the Kavalactone resin. The longer you press and squeeze the bag, the less oily it will feel and the more oily the water will feel and look. The water should take on the appearance of mud. To get the most from the already wet 'awa powder, some people place it again in a smaller amount of water and continue the kneading process, then combine this weaker mix into the stronger.

Traditionally, each serving of this prepared 'awa is swallowed in one or two quick drinks from a coconut shell. It's a good idea to space servings at least 10 minutes apart. Kavain, the Kavalactone highest in most Hawaiian 'awa varieties, is usually felt quite soon after drinking, but the other Kavalactones' effects may not register for 20 minutes or so.

Some of our favorite Kava Recipes

(Kava) ‘Awa Colada

  • 2 or 3 tablespoons powdered Kava root
  • 1 cup (8 oz) of coconut juice (look for ones without preservatives)
  • 1/2 cup chunk pineapple
  • 1 cup water

Add the Kava, coconut juice, pineapple and water into an Osterizer or electric blender for about five minutes. Strain the liquid. (Liquid may get warm under the prolonged blending.) Chill. Makes one or two servings.

(Kava) ‘Awa Banana

  • 1 or 2 tablespoons powdered Kava root
  • 1 cup (8 oz) of water
  • 1 or 2 bananas
  • Ice

Prepare the standard Kava beverage by using 1 or 2 tablespoons of powdered Kava root, 1 cup of water (or equivalent). Massage or blend, then strain with a sieve. Add 1 or 2 bananas to the liquid, some ice, then blend in an Osterizer or electric blender until the ice is crushed. Makes one or two servings.

(Kava) ‘Awa Blueberry-yogurt mix
From Hanss Speduik

  • 3 heaping tablespoon Kava
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup whole yogurt (I prefer the unhydrogenated yogurt in health food stores)

Notes: This recipe seems to have the added benefit of providing fiber in one's diet. :-)

(Kava) ‘Awa Cacao

  • 2 tablespoons powdered Kava root (or equivalent)
  • 2 cups (16 oz) of water
  • 1 Wow-Wee Maui Chocolate Bar (you can find them at

Use an Osterizer or electric blender. Prepare the Kava and water with it. Strain the liquid. Add the chocolate, and blend again till chocolate is fully incorporated into the liquid. (Liquid may get warm under the prolonged blending, but don't allow it to go too hot.) Makes one or two servings. Chocolate with high cacao content, e.g., more than 60%, is a favorite - the bittersweet taste of the chocolate complements the bitterness of the Kava and helps mask the rooty taste.

(Kava) ‘Awa Iced Cinnamon-Honey

  • 1 tablespoon powdered Kava root
  • 2 cups (16 oz) of water
  • 1 tablespoon honey (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon (or to taste)
  • 3 or 4 ice cubes

Blend the Kava and water. Strain the liquid. Add the honey, cinnamon, and ice cubes to the liquid and blend again. Makes one or two servings.

(Kava) ‘Awa Lemon-Lime
Serving: About 24 oz. (three cups), enough for 1 or 2 people.

  • 6 tablespoons powdered Kava root
  • 3 cups (24 oz) of water
  • 1/4 cup of lime or lemon juice (about 10 calamondin limes)
  • 2 tablespoons honey


  • Blender
  • Nylon sieve
  • Stainless steel pot or bowl to hold the liquids

Add the measured Kava and water into the blender. Blend for about 4 minutes. Pour mixture into the nylon sieve, and gently massage until much of the liquid is extracted into your stainless steel pot or bowl. Discard the pulp. Add the lime juice and honey. Cool mixture in refrigerator, stir, and enjoy.

Notes: Substitution of equipment is possible. This is only one method of extracting the Kava juice through water infusion. One may also vary the addition of lime or lemon juice and honey to taste.

(Kava) ‘Awa Concentrate
Some people prefer to drink less and experience more. Concentrating the Kava beverage is one way... After preparing the Kava beverage, set it aside for awhile until the solids settle toward the bottom. Slowly, so as not to disturb the solution, remove the clear liquid at the top. The result is a more concentrated version of your Kava beverage at the bottom. This stuff is potent and perhaps not meant to be savored.

The most potency from the Kavalactones is to use hot water while brewing the kava and drinking at that time for freshness.


Not for use by persons under the age of 18. If pregnant, nursing or taking prescription drug, consult a doctor prior to use. Excessive consumption may impair ability to drive or operate heavy equipment. Not recommended for consumption with alcoholic beverages. Kava should not be used in Parkinson’s disease or with current benzodiazepine use.

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