Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Paradise Kava - Honey Lemon Solvent Free Kava Extract

Drinking Kava in a tropical environment definitely intensifies most aspects of the experience. When I first moved to Ghana six months ago, I brought along a couple bags of different Kavas (Paradise Kava 100% Awa, Nakamal at Home Wow!, and Kava By Rex Tongan Pride) and then a few different kinds of instant Kava (Shaman, Vanuatu Kava Store Instant, and Paradise Kava Pure Kava Extract). I brewed up a big batch of dried root Kava and shared it amongst the chief and elders, who really got a kick out of the numbness but honestly didn’t have enough (nor over a long enough period of time) to really “get it.” For me, being in humid rainy weather really enhances the mellowness of Kava, and really gives it an “in context” feel. I know not every person can hop on a plane and head down to the equator, but trust me when I say it’s a nice way to enjoy a shell or four. One day I will try to farm the holy root here, but until then I have to depend on orders from half-way around the world (quite literally).

It is hard to find Kava distributors who will ship to Ghana, and even harder to assure that the Kava will arrive, but I have finally got a new batch of Paradise Kava, so let the reviewing begin!

About 7 or 8 months ago I tried Paradise Kava’s Solvent Free Kava extracts for the first time. The two flavors – Honey Lemon and Chocolate & Orange – have maintained their names, but I’m almost positive that they have been somehow improved upon. The Honey Lemon, which I am reviewing now, has a slightly improved texture. Once you get it under your tongue it has a nice grittiness that dissolves more slowly than the previous incarnation. The flavor really disseminates throughout your palate, and complements the numbness that the kavalactones bring out. I’d say the lemon flavor dominates the honey flavor, but I think the intention is to let the honey supply the sweetness to the lemon. It certainly accomplishes that mission! It is not overly sweet, yet sweet enough to be – in my opinion – very addictive. The side of the jar tells you to limit your intake to 2 grams per day. Impossible!

According to Paradise Kava, the new solvent-free extracts contain a standardized dose of 120 mg of kavalactones per dose. The previous incarnation of the extracts was 60 mg per dose. To me, this stuff feels about three times as strong as the previous batch, and it really has some unique qualities that make trying it a very special experience.

When I first opened my jar of Honey Lemon and fished out a pea-sized glob of Kava Extract, my first concern was that I hadn’t had Kava in a long enough time – nearly 4 months! – and that I wouldn’t feel a thing. Well, I was very wrong. This stuff infused my body within seconds, and I actually paused, closed my eyes, and just the warmth take me home. Ah, that sacred wave of relief that only Kava can provide! In my review of the previous version of this extract, I said four pea-sized doses would put you on par with two shells. Well, four pea-sized doses of the new version would put you on par with four shells! I didn’t know this going into it, and needless to say had a very relaxing night playing my guitar under the West African stars.
Another great thing about a stronger dose per serving is, obviously, that a jar of this will last a long time. I have barely scratched the surface of my Honey Lemon jar and have been taking it ever day for nearly two weeks now. Since I gave the previous version of this extract a 10/10, and can’t go much higher, I’ll have to maintain my previous rating.

Give this stuff a shot, you won’t regret it! 

Friday, August 26, 2011

Kavasseur Updates in the Works!

I know it has been several months since Kavasseur has been updated, but I just received some fresh Kava extracts and new dry root Kavas from Paradise Kava and they will be featured on Kavasseur over the next few weeks. As you may or may not know, I am now farming cocoa in Ghana and have had limited internet access and, of course, limited access to new Kavas (or any Kavas, for that matter).

Here is what you have to look forward to:

Paradise Kava - Honey Lemon Kava Extract (now 120 mg of kavalactones per serving)
Paradise Kava - Chocolate Orange Kava Extract (also improved)
Paradise Kava - Isa Kava

I look forward to writing the reviews and hearing your feedback!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Paradise Kava's Answer to the "Kava Extract" Market

Let's face it - there haven't been a whole lot of great "to go" Kava options on the market. Almost every Kava "capsule" that has been released - Kona Kava's Kavalovetones, Gaia Herbs Kava, Solaray Kava - has been at best something that tastes like Kava if you crush it with your teeth. At worst, they are worthless investments that do absolutely nothing. With the exception of Yogi Tea's "Kava Stress Relief," I have never found a dry root, fresh root, or instant Kava replacement that truly delivers kavalactones "on the go." Sometimes you absolutely need Kava when it's not quite easy to brew up a bowl of grog. Now we have a solution.

Paradise Kava, who have brought us fresh Hawaiian Kavas such as "Black Beauty Blend," or dry root Kavas such as "100% Awa," also offer a couple different solvent-free Kava extracts. Each small bottle is $12, which is a steal considering I still haven't gotten through one of them (though I have been dipping into two different ones). They are by far the strongest and most effective "instant" Kava solutions available. Adding to that, they are much tastier and more pleasurable than breaking up chunks of instant Kava and mixing it with water.

Each of these extracts comes in a small ointment-sized container that resembles a lip gloss or make-up of some kind. The directions are to get a pea-sized quantity on the end of a popsicle stick (I used a matchstick, because it was easier) and place it under your tongue. The extract comes in two flavors - "Chocolate and Orange" and "Honey and Lemon." They are both extraordinarily delicious. The "Chocolate and Orange" flavor has a kind of orange, mint, and chocolate chip type of flavor and the "Honey and Lemon" tastes something like a lemon bar dipped in honey. To be honest, I would flip a coin if I had to choose between the two. They are both very good, though I've found myself reaching for the "Chocolate and Orange" more than the "Honey and Lemon."

Just like Kava from the shell, this stuff gives you a strong numb feeling in your mouth and throat. Most poignantly, it gives you a strong buzzing numbness under your tongue and your inner gum line. The effects are, not surprisingly, very immediate. In terms of the actual feeling of this extract, it resembles Paradise Kava's 100% Awa, which is my personal favorite of the dry root Kavas available. I'd say three or four pea-sized doses of this stuff put you on level with about two shells of the 100% Awa.

As I just finished writing my Master's Degree thesis, this stuff has really got me through the last six weeks. When feeling overwhelmed with stress, nothing hits the spot like some Kava. When brewed Kava root is too tedious to make, having this with you can be a lifesaver.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Paradise Kava - Black Beauty Blend

Enter fresh Kava.

There was a time when all we had access to in the continental United States was dried Kava, and then there was now. When I first got this stuff in the mail (see previous post for a video podcast), I let it defrost (it came frozen, packed in ice bags) and then opened it up and smelled it. I have never smelled fresh Kava before, harvested and then ground, frozen, and mailed right to my door. It has a very nutritional, green, vegetative smell that reminds me very little of what I've come to expect from dried Kava. In preparing to pen this follow-up written review, I decided to defrost the Kava, put it in a bowl, and get some good shots of it. So if you've ever wondered what fresh Kava pulp looks like, then here you go:

This time I decided to brew the Kava extra strong, and put extra effort into squeezing it. I heated up the water a little bit more than last time, in order to see what kind of difference it would make. Well, it made a huge difference. I mostly eye-balled the ratios this time, but used about 4 cups of water and 1 cup of coconut juice to a brimming fistful of Kava. I kneaded the Kava for a good 10 minutes, and then kneaded it again. In the end, this is what the squeezed, processed Kava looked like (I chewed on a big wad of this stuff and felt ready for a root canal):

The resulting Kava was a light brownish-white grog reminiscent of a Vanuatu strand. It has a chocolate-milk like color, which dances rather nicely with the flavor. Again, this Kava is sweeter than all dried Kavas that I have tried, with a full, nuttier flavor that is not unlike almonds or walnuts. Whereas a dried root Kava like Nakamal at Home's Wow! has a bitter yet cashewy flavor, this has a brighter, sweeter, and fuller flavor. It is really hard to describe because it is unlike any other Kava I have tried.

As for the effects of this Kava - they are immediate. The kavalactones permeate throughout your bloodstream rapidly, and you automatically feel any kind of stress or anxiety float away. As opposed to a "stony" feeling, this Kava gives you a kind of gentle uplifting. The two times I have tried this - the second time being much stronger - I felt a kind of full, alive form of relaxation. It doesn't make you tired and pull you to the ground, it rather fills you with a positive relaxation that is more productive than sapping. It brings about a well-rounded krunkness that is functional. I do notice a slight increase in photophobia over other Kavas, but it is not altogether disabling (I get this a lot when I brew Kava strongly). Again, this Kava is great for music lovers or musicians, readers or writers. Full-blown krunkness with a functional edge is nothing to be unexcited about.

The effect on the body is also notable. Full muscle relaxation. Any kind of headache or annoyance gone. Works really well on sore running legs. Far better on the body than any other Kava I have tried in the past.

Taste - 10/10
Effect (Mind) - 10/10
Effect (Body) - 10/10
Strength - Strong/Very Strong

Paradise Kava's Black Beauty Blend (Frozen) - 10/10

Friday, March 18, 2011

Paradise Kava - FRESH Black Beauty Blend Kava

Today I received an overnight FedEx package in the mail from Hawaii, sent yesterday with ice-packed frozen Kava inside. I have been waiting to try this stuff for a few months now, and I am so pleased to announce that today I did! I made a video podcast of my experience making and then tasting this Kava. I am still rather krunk from drinking this divine blend all day, so forgive me if I don't put up a full written review tonight. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Coming Soon on Kavasseur

I'm very excited to announce that next week we'll see reviews of Paradise Kava's upcoming line of fresh, frozen Kava that is delivered to buyers' doors. I have never experienced the taste or effect of fresh Kava, brewed and consumed in the Pacific islands. This upcoming line of Kavas captures that very taste and effect - grown, processed, and frozen in Hawaii and delivered to your doorstep. I'll be the first to review this Kava, and will do so with a video podcast that captures the very moment when I first try it. Such exciting news!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The War on Kava, Part 2

There has been much concern, gossip, and despair in the Kava world as of late. Some of our favorite Kavas have suddenly become unavailable, and when many of us thought we were several clicks away from a fresh bag of Solomon Kava we found, to our dismay, that it was no longer available. Rumors have swirled around about an impending shut down of Kava and Kava vendors in crisis.

So I've put on my journalist hat and done some investigating, and what I've found is not too reassuring.

Sources (who I will give the pseudonym of "Philip") have informed me of seized containers of Kava that are (as of right now) frozen in ports under the order of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Apparently, this is not unusual in and of itself, but the length of time which those containers have been seized is unusual. Kava shipped by air from two different countries has been seized and held in a storage facility awaiting inspection, and has essentially been left to sit at these facilities at the cost of the Kava vendor. In other words, the longer that Kava is sitting there the lower the profit margins for the vendor. Philip told me that this is just another way for the FDA to attack Kava. Rather than making Kava illegal, they are trying to make it unprofitable.

It seems that some of those "anti-energy" drinks are part of the problem. We have even discussed them here - Take 2 For Sleep, Mary Jane's Relaxing Soda, etc. - and all of them contain Kava extract. Kava in concoctions other than Kava root powder or instant Kava has been known to be harmful and were the reason for Kava's initial ban in Europe. Philip explained to me that the FDA has Kava vendors sign an agreement that they will not create such concoctions from their imported Kava or sell Kava to companies that do make such concoctions. The fact that these kinds of concoctions are flooding the market has upped the FDAs game. Because of this renewed effort to control sources of Kava, normal everyday Kava has become targeted.

So as those containers of Kava sit at a port in Los Angeles, Philip is given no indication of whether his Kava is going to get cleared or not, and racks up expenses for the contained Kava. Left with two choices, Philip must decide between a) gambling that the Kava will get cleared and continue to pay a daily fee to the airline or b) refuse the Kava and send it back to the country it was grown in.

To quote Philip: "the FDA is very powerful and they don't have to ban something per se to stop the importation of it. All they have to do is discourage businesspeople from wanting to import it and the same effect occurs."

Not a good sign at all. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

New Kavasseur Podcast!

Just uploaded a new Kavasseur podcast to It is a taste off between Hawaiian Kava Center's Nene and Mo'i Kavas. I also do a little bit of a Kava making demonstration. Enjoy it.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Kavasseur Podcast

I have recorded a podcast with C. Boyce, linked to the Kavasseur podcast on You Tube, but also downloadable as an iTunes podcase. The following is 1/3 of the podcast, please go to You Tube to listen to the other two-thirds:

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Fire Island - The Best Instant Kava of All

Even though Kava King, Quick Kava, and Shaman Kava are all fine choices, only one instant Kava can hold the top position in the instant Kava world: Nakamal at Home's Fire Island.

There is something so original about Fire Island Kava. Whenever I drink it, I always think to myself that this is the baseline - this is what Kava is supposed to taste like. And just for the record, this essentially is what Kava looks and tastes like in the South Pacific. A greenish hue, a more chlorophyllic taste, and a kind of wrap-around numbing to the mouth all pull together to give Fire Island its unique taste. While Quick Kava and Shaman Kava might remind you more of a typical Vanuatu dried-root brew, this stuff puts you right in the Nakamal and lets you experience island Kava the way it should be.

Kaiden Fox wrote a review not too long ago about Fire Island Kava, celebrating its instant and relatively short-lived effects. I concur. And like Kaiden, I find such effects to be overwhelmingly agreeable. If you have been brewing your Kava from dried root, you will be surprised at how different Fire Island tastes and feels. It is essentially captured as fresh Kava juice, dehydrated, and frozen in time until you add water and swirl it around. The last time this stuff touched water, it was in Vanuatu. I think that's pretty damn cool.

The effects are instant. When you drink this stuff down - and it goes down quick - it goes straight to your nervous system and muscles. It is a wave of relaxation. Another pleasant thing about Fire Island is that it doesn't seem to accumulate in your system the way dried root grogs do. You can drink this stuff throughout the night and have several little peaks that don't coalesce into any kind of nauseous overload. And that is definitely a good thing.

For Kaiden's original (and better) review, click here.

Taste - 9.5/10
Effect (Mind) - 8.5/10
Effect (Body) - 8.5/10
Strength - Intermediate-Strong

Nakamal at Home's Fire Island Kava - 8.8/10