Kava Kava Explained
20 Dec

Kava Kava Explained

Posted By: Jeffrey A. Bowman Times Read: 453 Comments: 0

Kava kava has many names depending on which part of the world you are in but all of them refer to the plant piper Methysticum. Kava kava is a plant as well as the beverage prepared from its fresh or dried roots. Kava kava is also the name for capsules and extracts made from this plant as well. Kavalactones are the active ingredient in kava that causes the relaxing effects. 

People often ask the question is kava kava the same thing as kava? The answer to this question is yes, both names can be used interchangeably. If you ask people for kava kava in the South Pacific they may look at you a little funny and wonder why you are repeating the same word twice but they will understand what you are looking for. Most people just call it simply kava. 

In the Republic of Vanuatu kava kava has many names. In my extensive travels to this country I have heard kava, bir, birka, sini, malogu, malok,  all used to describe the plant or beverage. Sini is used on central Pentecost island. Mele is used on south Pentecost island. Malogu is used on northern Pentecost island. 

In the Fiji islands kava is the national drink of the country. It is typically called yaqona country wide. I have also heard many Fijians simply call it grog. 

In the United States the term kava kava is used frequently. As a matter of fact these words are the most searched for terms on internet search engines for kava related products. I once had a dietary supplement marketing expert tell me why the word kava is repeated twice in a row. His explanation was simple. He claimed that back in the early days of kava kava reaching the US market it was mostly pills and extracts on the shelves of retail stores that were for sale. Any good marketer makes sure that their products labeling catches a consumers eye on a shelf regardless of which way it may be facing. Sometimes customers pick up products and do not buy them and put them back on the shelf backwards, sideways or any way in between and remain that way until a store clerk fixes them. To insure that customers saw kava on a label any way it may be turned on a shelf some genius marketer had the idea to name the product kava kava to increase the chances of retail recognition by customers that translate to sales. 

Hawaii is part of the United States. Kava is grown in Hawaii and consumed for thousands of years. In Hawaii they call kava kava by the name awa. Do not be fooled by the phonetics, this is pronounced “ah-vah” and not “ow-wah” as it looks. They do not call it awa awa in Hawaii that I know of any way. 

In the Federated States of Micronesia they also grow and consume kava kava. Here it is called sakau. I have heard they have kava bars in Micronesia but I have never been there (yet) to verify it. 

If you are curious about kava kava you have come to the right place to get answers. Nakamal At Home has been selling kava products constantly since 2002. We only sell kava in it’s powder form to make the kava beverage. 

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