Sunday, December 12, 2010

When To Drink Kava

Typically, I drink Kava six days out of the week. But timing a Kava session is crucial to getting the most out of your grog. I have learned this the hard way, by either drinking Kava too early, too late, or too much or too little at just the wrong time. I want to provide a few tips on getting the most out of your Kava, depending on what you want it to do for you. Also, it will give you further insight into how I set up my Kava reviews and how I assure that I am approaching each Kava under the same equal and "objective" circumstances.

My first rule is that I don't drink Kava after I have eaten a meal. This is really key to getting the most out of your Kava, or even enjoying it at all. Part of respecting your Kava is allowing it to fully embrace you. Kava on a full stomach is basically worthless. If you know you are going to drink Kava, make sure you plan your meals so that you can fit in Kava sometime just before dinner.

Winter months are the best for drinking Kava, because it gets dark earlier. I find that Kava is best consumed about 1 to 1 1/2 before the sun begins to set. Here in San Diego, 4:30-5:00 seems to be the best time for me to have a 24-ounce bowl of Kava ready for the drinking (my own serving) - if I have a guest over for a Kava session I make 48-ounce bowl. As I typically get home from work at around 4, this always turns out to be perfect. If I've had a light lunch (a general rule for me) at around 11:30-12:00, then by 4:30-5:00 I feel just hungry enough to know that I have an "empty stomach." This way, I can be well krunked before I sit down to eat. Conveniently, Kava seems to bring the bouquet of dinner to life and also weaken ones appetite to allow them to eat a decent, humble amount.

Of course, I save some Kava for after dinner. But typically, I drink this Kava a couple hours after dinner rather late in the evening.  A second Kava session after 8 or 9 o'clock is great for a second buzz and provides a rather ideal night cap (depending on the strain, of course!) Recently, I have started with a Vanuatu or PNG Kava in the early evening and ended the night with a Tongan or Fijian Kava.

I almost never drink Kava during the morning or early afternoon. I have, on occasion, drank instant Kava on stressful days. One thing I have noticed about daytime Kava is that it typically doesn't have the desired effect. You want to feel relaxed, less stressed, less anxious, etc. But typically, I just dread the fact that I have to continue going through the daily grind after I have had some Kava. "Oh, I was stressed out and now I've had some Kava. Now I feel really good but everything and everyone else around me is bright and fast and thinks I should be along for the ride." Yeah, not very agreeable. At least that's how I feel about it.

One of the great side effects of having a strict Kava drinking routine is that you tend to get healthier. You eat smaller portions at more regular times and tend to drink less alcohol. I used to love drinking beer, but now that I drink Kava so regularly I don't find as much time for beer. Also, we shouldn't forget that Kava is good for our minds and spirits. Drinking Kava regularly can cut anxiety out of your life almost completely. As most good Kavas stay with you for a full day, drinking it around the same time every day will keep you away from stress and tension throughout the day.


  1. On a related note, what's your philosophy/protocol for kava with strong after-effects? I happen to be under the influence of last night's two shells of Chief's Jungle kava, which was probably a bit much after the six shells the night before, which was probably a bit much after the four or five shells the night before that. It most certainly keeps me away from stress and tension throughout the day.

  2. It depends on whether I find the after-effects pleasant or not. With Chief's Jungle, I happen to not enjoy the after-effects - the next day feeling is like coming down off Benadryl. Kava by Rex's Vanuatu Isa/Tudei has a great next day de-stressing effect, without the dulling of the senses. To be honest, I almost never drink Chief's Jungle anymore. It doesn't taste good and practically too strong.

  3. I like the flavor, but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who doesn't like mint. I don't know why, but the latest batch reminds me of mint, although it's not minty in the normal sense of the word. Since I've taken to storing kava in a sealed Stanley container with 12+ hours of temperature retention, the "oh shit this tastes like fucking grass" effect is much less.

    If this is the kind of kava that is big in Australia, I guess I'm starting to understand part of "the Australian problem." I really don't want to DO anything but sleep and drink more kava. Then again, it may be my hatred of December. It's not really seasonal affective disorder... I perk right up in January. I used to think I hated Christmas, but I actually like the holiday itself. It's the crowds, the bells, the recycled sanitized overproduced Christmas music, the bells, the cold and snow, the pressure of working retail technical support during the holiday season, etc. I'd probably want to do nothing but sleep and drink kava even if I was drinking very watery Fijian kava.

  4. Congratulations Douglas! I appreciate all the work you've put into this site! Having sampled quite a few of the kava's you've reviewed I know that it is not all work. Many thanks, and 30,000 bulas to you.

  5. Funny I was just readying your WOW review and thinking, "why does Kava seem to hit me different ways on different days. You hit the nail on the head. I tried some of the Tudei 2 table spoons to one cup on an empty stomach and it about knocked me through a wall. And I really second the Kava after a full meal is a waste of Kava. I think everone who is going to use Kava needs to find their fav and the right balance. And also second the appetite suppression and alcohol replacement.

  6. Douglas,

    First I would like to thank you for running this review site. It's great that you are providing a useful service while doing what you love - drinking kava. This post however makes me think, and I hope this wouldn't be an offensive question but one you have personally considered, and can answer for me.

    I love Kava too, but I consider it a drug just like any other (opium tea, cannabis, etc). If you partake in it daily, sure you might lead a less stressful life, but wouldn't you be dependent on it at this point? I can almost guarantee that quitting a daily Kava routine would be as/more painful than quitting hard drugs of the illegal variety.

    Now, I'm not saying Kava should be illegal or anything like that. I am only asking what you think about such a practice? Is it responsible? Are there health risks OTHER than the psychological dependence, and are the benefits worth being psychologically addicted to it? I hope this isn't an offensive question, and I'd love to hear your reply.

  7. Not an offensive question at all. I don't depend on Kava. Actually, I haven't had Kava in about a week, and go months without having it at times. There are no withdrawals when you can't get Kava. A person has to be responsible for their habits, and it is no different with Kava than anything else. It does not have the same addictive properties as nicotine, alcohol, or opium. It is closer to cannabis in that it is non-addictive, but perhaps somewhat habit forming. When you make the decision to not drink Kava, you won't find yourself fiending for it. However, it is a nice way to find relief from stress. If stress and anxiety are a serious health problem, than people should consult with a doctor.

  8. Thanks for the tips, Douglas -- I tried consuming some instant Shaman on an empty stomach with much better results than my previous attempts (after a meal).

    I had a couple questions; you mentioned that you consume kava typically 6 days a week, I'm just curious why not 7? ;)

    Also, when you consume it this frequently, have you ever noticed any adverse reactions? I used to be a drinker and have some anxiety issues, and kava seems to be a good alternative, but I'm just curious about a downside.

    Anyways, thanks for making this site such a great resource.

    - JB

  9. My Dr. has prescribed me Quetiapine Fumarate 50mg twice a day and Apo-sertraline HCI 50mg once a day for anxiety. I am 28 years old, fit, male.
    i have a hard time staying still or sitting to long without my legs getting extremely restless and my insides(chest mostly ) feels like its vibrating inside. I used to drink every day too relax, and to be honest it worked but the side effects of alcohol are very dangerous (as i found out)
    I am wondering two things, 1. would kava help me to stay still and calm like a few drinks would, and 2. what would be the best way to take it? I have read about pills but I heard they do not work as well as tea or extract or other ways.I am looking for the best way to get the most kavectones easily and conveniently.
    P.S. i have an all day (8hour) tattoo coming up and I am usually ok with short ones like 2-3 hours but start getting restless and antsy . would sipping KAVA all day help with stopping this feeling

  10. women rarely drink kava in vanuatu, since the belief that they would grow fat and would not get pregnant(from what i heard). however i think women also can drink kava and men should not argue against it. As far as women are concern they are also in need of relaxing after streeful days of work. Just a thought.

  11. Even if over a year old, I would love to here an answer to anon 5:26 as well. I also get antsy, restless leg etc.

  12. In my experience kava doesn't help with my RLS at all. Kratom, however, takes it away completely.

  13. Hi Douglas, how do you feel about combining a nice kava buzz (2-5 shells) with a beer at the end of the night?