Thursday, May 31, 2012

Paradise Kava - 100% Hawaiian Awa

***In honor of almost three years of Kavasseur, I wanted to re-post the review that has had the most hits (and is the highest-rated). Here is my review of Paradise Kava's 100 % Hawaiian Awa that I originally reviewed in December of 2010!

There doesn't seem to be any record for these kinds of things, but I'm quite sure that 2010 has probably been the best year for Kava yet. About five years ago, it was incredibly hard to find good, readily available Kava online. Now it seems like new vendors are opening every day, and that new, fresher Kava powders are been delivered to our door steps. Paradise Kava is one of the best new vendors I have tried, and even though I've only had their Southern Fiji Premium Kava and this Hawaiian Awa, I am thrilled to see what they come up with next. According to their website, they will be selling frozen, FedExed fresh Kava juice very soon. That will be a day for the history books.

Now, onto this 100% Hawaiian Awa. It's another record-setter in my book, and though I'm incredibly high on it right now, I'll do my best to type out an objective review. According to the Paradise Kava website, this is a blend of Hiwa, Mahakea, and Mo'i varieties (all familiar to those of us who have been ordering from Hawaiian Kava Center) that is sold as an extra fine ground dry root powder. I was fortunate enough to get a bag of this before the website even opened, and I was stunned by its taste, effects, and sheer beauty. Here are a few pictures of the ground powder and the resulting grog:

One thing that stands out about this blend is its anesthetic effect. As an almost nightly Kava drinker, I was surprised at how potently and thoroughly this stuff numbed up my tongue, throat, and jaw. I half expected a dentist to come charging through the back door with a drill and a collapsible chair. It is really quite something, and I haven't had such a strong reaction in that sense since I first drank Nakamal at Home's "Wow" Kava last year.

The taste of this Kava is incredibly mild. Let me walk through it. When you first touch your lips to the Kava, it has a bitter, nutty taste that is full and creamy like the very color of the brew. It then proceeds into a kind of peppery taste not unlike Nakamal at Home's Stone, but a bit longer lasting, more substantial, and thicker. I strained with a traditional Fijian strainer, so I didn't get any grit - but it still felt heavy and rooty and viney. That peppery flavor kind of naturally switches on the anesthetic response and soon it is impossible to discern the numbness from the flavor. It is like a blend of physical reaction and spicy flavor. Again, I'm krunked while writing this and obviously continuing to drink Kava. Heaven help the Kavasseur.

As for the effects, this might be the most agreeable Kava I have tried. As if I already didn't think my ranking, or grading, system wasn't good enough - now I have tried this. Mentally, it is abnormally relaxing. I got home from work around 4:00 and it is now 5:00, and just about 90 minutes ago I was driving home on the freeway getting cut off by people in cars much shinier than mine. Their faces like intent manipulative lizards, those careeners and dodgers are the very bane of modern life. Roads become stress tests and it seems all the annoying comments of the day are dealt with on these concrete arteries. Not mine, of course. I drive slowly and intently like a stream of thick Kava pouring from a shell. No reason to make the hectic hecticer. Let that stress roll off your back when you get home and down a couple shells - let it drift away and never come back. Yes, this Kava is the antidote. This Awa. This Hawaiian Awa. Drain a couple shells and it all falls behind you like a sickly murky dream. As the daylight sets and the Kava seeps into your blood, so does your heart slow down and your eyes grow heavy and kind. Your muscles fill with warmth and your skin tingles.  A blanket and some jazz on the couch? Why not? This Kava delivers mentally and physically, and feels crushingly strong. It's one of those grogs where you've downed three shells and then thought to yourself: "Was that too much?" I feel like articulating words and feeling out the contours of their sounds. I'm absolutely krunked.

So yeah, that's Paradise Kava's "100% Hawaiian Awa" for you. A new reigning champion. Sorry if that got a little too descriptive, but that's how my experience this dusk has been. Krunk on...

Flavor - 9.5/10
Effect (Mind) - 10/10
Effect (Body) - 10/10
Strong-Very Strong

Paradise Kava's 100% Hawaiian Awa - 9.83/10

Monday, May 21, 2012

Nakamal at Home - White Sand Kava

Every now and then you have a Kava experience that just works perfectly - great tasting, immediate, mouth-numbing, and delicately potent. I always think of a good Fijian or Tongan strain when I think of overwhelmingly subtle, sublime, and delicious Kava experiences. Finally, I have had a Vanuatuan Kava that mirrors those characteristics - Nakamal at Home's "White Sand Kava."

This is the only Nakamal at Home Kava product that I hadn't yet tried. Well, I can almost say I saved the best for last. Strong like Stone or Chief's Jungle? No. Mild and quotidian (yes, I just used that word) like Tongan or Fijian? No. Somewhere right in between - just perfect? Yes.

First of all, this Kava tastes amazing. It has a very fresh, almost Tongan taste. I would almost venture to say that it has an "instant" Kava flavor like Shaman or Fire Island. But that wouldn't do it justice because it is fuller, heavier, and more substantial than an instant Kava could ever be. That being said, its greenish hue and fresh flavor give it an almost "fresh frozen Kava" kind of flavor. It has that round, cashew-like flavor characteristic of most good Kavas out there. It is a bit heavy on the palate - in a good way. Not bitter in any sense of the word, more like an unsalted peanut butter or a good-tasting clay (whatever that means, but this is Kava we are talking about!).

I mixed three heaping tablespoons with one liter of water and squeezed this Kava until all the oils had seeped out. Noticing that it was still a bit thin, I added one more tablespoon and continued to squeeze. Upon having the first shell, I noticed the immediate numbness and subsequent buzz. Ah, yes! Nakamal at Home is always reliable for selling strong Kavas - Kavas that will impress upon first impression (just used two variations of the same word within the same sentence!). White Sand Kava is - dare I say - the Bud Light of Kavas. You can drink and drink and drink and you'll just continue to feel better*.

Definitely a body buzz more than a head buzz, but that's okay. I'm a farmer now, and such a Kava hits the spot perfectly. Your muscles will collapse into a state of what can only be termed "regeneration." And even though this Kava isn't heady, it still allows you to leave your problems at the door and phase out the day with grace and gratitude.

Highly recommended, and this is the 33rd Kava I've tried!

Taste - 9/10
Effect (Mind) - 7.5/10
Effect (Body) - 9/10
Strength - Medium

Nakamal at Home's "White Sand Kava" - 8.5/10

*Apologies to any recovering alcoholics out there.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Kavasseur on Twitter, Facebook, and Yuku!

To keep up-to-date on all Kavasseur happenings and to contribute to the conversation, join me on Twitter, Facebook, and Yuku. I am still reviewing and posting about Kava - even though I live in West Africa - and want the community to continue to grow. We all know that drinking Kava is a safe, enjoyable medicinal and recreational activity. Let's watch this community grow into a movement for a more stress-free world!

Create a Facebook account and apply to the group "The Kava Lounge" on Facebook. There, you can see whenever I update Kavasseur or post your thoughts on Kava.

Create a Yuku account and look up "The Kava Lounge" on Yuku:

Also, I have a Twitter account for Kavasseur. So look me up on Twitter! @kavasseur

My review of White Sand Kava from Nakamal at Home will be up this week. I'm looking forward to trying the only product of their's that I haven't tried.

Also, PLEASE click on an advertisement once in a blue moon so that I can continue to get my one-in-awhile $40 checks from Google. Support Kavasseur!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Paradise Kava - PNG Isa Kava

**One great thing about Paradise Kava is that all of their Piper Methysticum is grown on the big island of Hawaii. So, despite this being a Papua New Guinea strain, it is still big island grown. This explains why most of Paradise Kava's products are slightly more expensive than other Kava vendors. It is one thing to keep in mind when ordering from them - you are bound to get a fresher Kava that is a bit more expensive because of agricultural labor costs in the United States.

I didn't try PNG's Isa Kava until I arrived in Ghana after a grueling 36 hour trip. And then, I waited a day or two to acclimatize and wind down before brewing up a big bowl in the village where I farm cocoa, plantains, bananas, and taro. Combined with jet lag and the shock of working on the farm after being off of it for three weeks, this Kava bowled me over in a perhaps unexpected way. I probably should have chosen a Fijian or Hawaiian variety, but I wanted to give this a squeeze as it was fresh out of the pipeline.

When you open a bag of Paradise Kava, you are always greeted with a pungent whiff of very fresh Kava powder, and Isa can throw you off a bit because it is so immediately strong. Compared to their other powders, this is quite a heavy hitter in terms of strength and flavor. It is not comparable to the grassy, viscous Papua New Guinea varieties that vendors like Nakamal at Home or PNG Kava sell, but it is still piney and more terrestrial-scented.

The flavor of PNG's Isa is not like that of most of other PNG Kavas on the market (those sold by Nakamal at Home or PNG Kava, for example). It is noticeably less grassy, a bit nuttier, but is definitely still very strong. It does not go down smoothly like a Fijian, Tongan, or Hawaiian variety. Similarly, it has that almost overwhelming numbing effect that one would expect from a PNG Kava. In this sense, the taste is very satisfying in the "stony" department - you know you are swigging something that is going to knock your socks off. Like most PNG Kavas, I can't say I altogether enjoy drinking it from an aesthetic perspective. It is thick, acrid, and heavy. Like Nakamal at Home's Chief's Jungle Kava, this all makes sense when one considers the effects.

The effects of the PNG's Isa are imminent and overpowering. It is on the stronger side of strong. I would argue that it is perhaps a bit stronger than Nakamal at Home's "Chief's Jungle" but has a more pleasant strength that could be loosely compared to Nakamal at Home's "Stone" (though slightly stronger). My one apprehension about this particular Kava is that it has a pronounced "Tudei" effect. The day after I drank a few shells of this, I was still substantially krunked and even slightly nauseous. I don't particular enjoy that feeling, so I'd put this at the bottom of my Paradise Kava list (which is still a good thing, considering there amazing selection).

This is THE Kava for people who are looking for strong effects. It will krunk the senses out of you. But be careful, because you will feel it the next day!

Taste - 7/10
Effects (Mind) - 8/10
Effects (Body) - 8/10

Strength - Very Strong

Paradise Kava's Isa Kava - 7.6/10