Monday, November 29, 2010

Kava by Rex - Vanuatu Isa/Tudei

Kava by Rex seems to be the new game in town. So far, I've been overwhelmed by the fresh flavor and surprising potency of their Kavas. I also like the grind of it - it is nice and powdery and just smells wonderful when you open the bag. I've already reviewed the Vanuatu 3 Kava and tried the Fiji Waka blend (to be reviewed soon), and both of those tasted fresh and felt great. But tonight I brewed up a batch of Vanuatu Isa/Tudei and was really impressed.

I can't figure out whether or not there is legitimacy to the claim that this is Piper wichmanii, though the Kava by Rex website admittedly explains that it is "speculated" to be so. To those who don't already know, Piper wichmanii is the wild variety of Kava that the various varieties of Piper methysticum were derived (domesticated) from. It is said that Piper wichmanii stills grows wildly in Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu and could have been endemic to either of those two contemporary countries. The website also claims that this Kava may last for two days, which I also can't confirm or deny at this point. One thing is for sure: with the kind of pleasant "happy" buzz it gives I certainly hope it really does last two days.

This Kava is quite thick and very typical of Vanuatu Kava. It has a mild peppery flavor to it which I think is much subdued by the prescribed preparation method - 2 tablespoons to 16 oz. of water. It is very delicious and reminds me a bit of Nakamal at Home's "Wow!" Vanuatu Kava. There are actually a few similarities that lead me to wonder whether there is some connection between the two varieties.

It gives off a subdued, giddy kind of feeling that is warm but perky. I was actually feeling a bit tired prior to drinking it but was pleasantly surprised by a kind of "second wind." If you're a Kava kavasseur, you'll understand when I say this Kava helps you "breathe deeply." It makes you want to stretch your body and massage your muscles. It takes away all sense of pain in your muscles and joints. Of all the Kavas I have tried this one seems the most appropriate to be placed in the category of "medicinal." It also has very mild but pleasant psychological effects, reducing feelings of stress and overwhelming worry that too often accompany our "modern" lives. In fact, as I write this I must report that I feel better right now - in this blissful and rested moment - than I have in a few days. As I said above, if this truly is Tudei (two day) than I have found yet another great companion in the Kava universe.

Taste - 8/10
Effect (Body) - 9.5/10
Effect (Mind) - 9.5/10

Kava by Rex Vanuatu Isa/Tudei 9/10

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Kava by Rex - Vanuatu 3 Special Edition

For me, this Kava is something of a return to Vanuatu. In J. Marteen Troost's "Getting Stoned With Savages" he discusses the intense competition between Melanesian islands in trying to boast the "strongest, best Kava." I feel like I've been, at least mentally, running around the south Pacific looking my own favorite Kava. My own strongest, best Kava. Papau New Guinea, Fiji, Tonga, Hawaii, the Solomon Islands, and Samoa. There are so many island nations with so many different kinds of Kava. Creamy, delicious and fresh Fijian Kavas. Hypnotic, deep, and sensual Solomon Island brews. Naughty, rough, and primal Guinean shells. But Kava drinkers must remember that it all started in Vanuatu. Or maybe Papau New Guinea.... well, it's up in the air. But one thing is certain - Vanuatu is the beating heart of Kava Kava.

So I was delighted to try not only a new Vanuatu Kava, but a new Kava vendor. I had heard great things about "Kava by Rex." One of these great things included being able to brew 16 oz. of grog with only a tablespoon. Wait, really? Yes. Indeed.

I know I say this a lot, but this Kava tastes really great. Owing to its totally different consistency from other Kavas available on the market - once again, 16 ounces of water to 1 tablespoon of Kava - it is slightly lighter, milkier, and creamier. No really spiciness to it, nor grittiness. But it also has a complete taste, and doesn't taste like "watered-down" Kava. It has a very "soft" taste which temps the drinker into making the somewhat presumptuous decision to drink a lot of it. I drank about six shells, pushing myself to make the not-too-difficult decision to brew a second bowl.

But the best thing about this Kava is that it didn't really get me krunked. It just got me.. well... happy. After all, it had been a long day, and I deserved it, right? I... think.. I'll.... have.... another....

Well, nevermind that. Maybe I was krunked after all. My legs felt quite heavy, nay, like two heavy logs attached to my thighs. My eyes felt deep, strong, and acute. My muscles felt warm, un-coiled and massaged. My mind grew steadily more relaxed. I was able to really enjoy the book I was reading on the post-colonial Congo (don't ask) with a nice rumbling jazz soundtrack to guide the narrative along. Shell after shell, I grew more and more content. About three hours later I was able to crawl into bed, put on some music, and become enveloped in great warmth.

This is really good Kava.

Really, at $25.00 a pound and 1 tablespoon to 16 ounces of water, how could you refuse?

Kava by Rex - Vanuatu 3 Special Edition

Taste 9/10
Effect (Mind) - 9.5/10
Effect (Body) - 10/10
Strength - Medium-Strong

Vanuatu 3 Special Edition - 9.5 shells out of 10

Saturday, November 20, 2010

More Kava Reviews Coming Soon!

Kavasseur has been a bit slow recently as a result of other obligations. But never fear, I have been continuing to order and drink different varieties of Kava and new reviews will be up very shortly. Readers can look forward to reviews of the following Kavas in the next few weeks:

Kava By Rex Vanuatu 3 Limited Edition
Paradise Kava 100% Hawaiian Awa
Kava By Rex Fiji Waka
Hawaiian Kava Center Mo'i

Also, if you want to submit your own reviews or share Kava stories, email me at and I will post them on the blog.

Thanks, Douglas