Fiji Bliss

How to Make Kava: The Definitive Guide

Roots of Being is reader supported. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission.

For thousands of years, Kava has been consumed across the south pacific. Typically, this consumption would have been of fresh Kava that had been harvested very recently. With the invasion of modernity and the commercialization of Kava across the world, Kava has been dried and ground up for international consumption. The methods of preparation have changed as well, and depending on the type of kava chosen and the preparation equipment used, there are several different paths you can take to get the most potent kava you can.

This article outlines several different preparation methods and explains how to make kava in a variety of ways.

How to Make Kava

There are several different ways to make Kava. Depending on the format of the Kava, the preparation method is different. I’ve broken down the various formats and methods below.

Fresh Kava Root Preparation

Find a virgin, get her to chew on recently-dug up fresh kava root for the balance of the day while spitting out the liquid. Strain and drink that. Easy peasy.

In antiquity, and even in the present day in some islands on the south pacific, fresh Kava is consumed. The true classical way this was done was by having virgin women chew on the kava root, masticating it and spitting out the liquid, which was strained and drank.

Outside of perhaps a ceremony, this is almost certainly no longer done anywhere, though variations of it are likely still in effect in Vanuatu and Fiji.

Traditional Kava Root Preparation

Wakacon Fijian Kava
Wakacon Fijian Kava

Traditional kava root is the most common format for kava to be sold in (for example, Wakacon’s Fijian Kava), at least among the reputable vendors. Over time, I wouldn’t be surprised if micronized becomes more popular, though.

This root has been ground somewhat coarsely and needs to be further processed in order to make a quality kava drink.

This format is generally cheaper per dose than a micronized kava, as it is more minimally processed.  However, it requires a good deal more work preparation to brew than micronized does– at least if you do it the traditional way.

So what is the proper way to make traditional kava?

Crack those knuckles, as you’re going to be doing some work with your hands!

Tools You Need

You’ll need a large kitchen prep bowl and strainer bag of some sort for a traditional kava preparation. You can get a traditional strainer bag if you’d like. You can also use pantyhose as a strainer, and cheesecloth, though honestly cheesecloth should only be used in Kava Emergency situations, as there’s a good chance the cheesecloth will break.

Preparing Kava Root

To prepare a Kava the traditional way,

  1. Place two-four tablespoons of Kava in the strainer bag
  2. Twist the bag so that it is tightly secured
  3. Add approximately 1-2 cups of water, hot but not boiling, to the mixture.
  4. Insert the kava bag into the water and thoroughly wet the kava
  5. Pull the bag out of the kava, squeeze it tightly between your hands, kneed it, and add it back to the water.
  6. Repeat about 300 times, or for 10-15 minutes.

Over time, you’ll feel the texture of the kava on your hands change to be a bit less oily, and at that point your kava is ready.

Be sure to squeeze any last bits of liquid out of the kava bag, and set aside.

Drink the liquid, and perform the entire process again as a second wash, using the same kava root powder. This will allow you to get any additional kavalactones out of the kava, and ensure that it is completely done. At that point, you’ll probably have extracted all the potency, and if you want to go further, you’ll need to use different root.

Quantity Preparation

If you’re going to go this route, it’s generally best to make a much larger batch of root at a time, say 1/2 cup or more, depending on the size of your bowl.

You can see a video of this process here:


Some find that adding the water and kava to a blender, and blending for 3-4 minutes prior to kneading cuts down on the kneading time, and makes good kava. It’s an optional step, and if you have a blender handy, it’s probably worth doing. When I was making traditional kava, I would blend it and let it sit for about 45 minutes before kneading.

Kava Adjuncts

Many people who make kava like to experiment with different adjuncts that may or may not increase the potency or flavor of kava. A few of the common ones are discussed here.

Milk/Coconut Milk

Adding milk or coconut milk to the water, or replacing the water entirely with coconut milk, is not uncommon. In theory, the fat in the milk will help extract the kava, though I never noticed any difference in potency when using these adjuncts.

Fruit Juice

Fruit juices are often added to kava in order to help mask the taste. It works, but I try to avoid carby juices in general, so it’s not something I do. If you are a juice person, go to town, it definitely helps with the flavor.

Generally, I chase my kava with carbonated water. I find that the carbonated water somehow overwhelms my taste buds, and overrides the kava flavor.

Soy Lecithin

Soy lecithin is a fat source that can be added to kava, which in theory aids in extraction, and therefore potency. When I was doing traditional kava preparations, I would add about 1 tbsp soy lecithin to the mixture, but honestly, I didn’t notice any potency difference.

It doesn’t really impart any significant taste to the kava, but it does change the texture a bit.

Try it if you want. It’s not going to hurt, but I don’t find that it really helps much either.

Kava Toss and Wash

There are some who use the kava toss and wash method to consume kava root. This involves consuming kava without straining.

Toss and Wash usually requires chewing and swallowing the root itself fibers (the makas) as well as the kava drink.  This method may produce more powerful effects, but it often leads to dermopathy, allergic reactions, and stomach issues. See our article on the basics of Kava for more information.

I strongly suggest you stay away from toss and wash.

Micronized “Instant” Kava Preparation

Kalm with Kava Borogu Micronized Instant Kava
Kalm with Kava Borogu Micronized Instant Kava

Micronized kava (such as Kalm with Kava’s Borugu) is a type of kava that has been ground extremely finely and is one of the easiest formats for kava consumption. It looks and functions very much like protein powder, and generally just needs to be mixed with water, and drunk.

It’s known as “Instant” kava because it is very quick to make, with no mess. The arduous kneading and straining process is eliminated, which is the main selling point for micronized kava.

  1. Measure out the appropriate quantity (usually 2-3 tsp)
  2. Add micronized kava to liquid (generally about 1 cup)
  3. Shake for a minute or so to dissolve the powder. If you can’t shake, stir, Mr. Bond.
  4. Bula! Drink up.

If you have a blender, you can use it to mix up the kava more thoroughly and completely.

Depending on the process of grinding the micronized Kava, there may still be some makas in the powder, which can potentially upset the stomach. Some like to strain their micronized kava, while others skip the straining.

If you have an Aluball (see my Aluball review for information), you can use it with micronized kava to act as a strainer as well. While the Aluball is typically used with traditional root, it will work with micronized kava, and will keep some of those undissolved bits out of your kava.

Kava Root Extract Preparation

Kava Root Extract is kava that has been processed into a tincture, generally using alcohol, but occasionally using water, CO2, or other methods. Overall, I’m not a fan of kava root extracts, as they are often low quality, with lower disclosure standards compared to other types of kava.

Additionally, the general consensus on mixing alcohol with kava is that it is unwise, and the extracts are often these sorts of mixes. However, often extracts are an introduction to the kava world, as they are generally somewhat available in natural food and vitamin shops.

  1. Using the dropper, gather approximately 1 full dropper full of kava root extract.
  2. Squirt the dropper into your mouth, and keep the liquid under your tongue for about 1 minute
  3. Swallow, and repeat if necessary

I largely ignore the kava extract market, though I have tried a few over the years. The now-defunct (unfortunately!) Paradise Kava had a great CO2 kava extract that I quite enjoyed. As far as I know, no one is currently producing CO2 extracts at this point.

Aluball Preparation

Aluball Kava Maker, How to Make Kava
Aluball Kava Maker

The Aluball is my preferred method of kava preparation. It is a great system that balances the positive aspects of traditional kava root with the ease of preparation of instant kava. The Aluball is a tea-infusion like system with a very fine mesh strainer ball inside a plastic, sealed vessel. Shake it up quite a bit, and you have a very high quality, potent drink with no mess and no long preparation time.

  1. Add two tablespoons of kava root to the aluball. Screw the top on.
  2. Add 1 cup hot, but not boiling, water to the aluball (I use my tap water on full heat).
  3. Shake the aluball for 1-2 minutes
  4. Pour out the drink, and off you go.

You can make a second and even a third wash with this method, to ensure that all of the kavalactone content is extracted from your root.

Filtering Kava

Most who are into kava are of the opinion that kava should be fully strained before consumption, with no chunks, or “makas”, in the concoction. This ensures the highest quality drink, and results in the least amount of stomach disturbance. It also reduces the likelihood of developing dermopathy, which is as positive.

Pre-Kava Fast

Perhaps the biggest impact you can make on the potency of your kava is by controlling your food consumption prior to the ingestion of the kava. It is best to fast for at least 5 hours before drinking your kava, and after you have your kava, stick with a fairly light meal.

I find that if I avoid kava for several hours before my kava session, the kava has a much more powerful impact than if I eat a short time before the kava. Certainly try doing a pre-kava fast before you bother with soy lecithin, coconut milk, and the like.

Kava Flavoring

Kava tastes awful, in case you’re wondering. Take some filtered mud, throw in some dirty dishwater, and you’ll get pretty much the flavor of kava.

As we mentioned above, many add fruit juices or coconut milk to mask the taste. Some add chocolate, peppermint, and other sweeteners to try to mask the taste. It probably helps, but I try to keep my carbs under control, so I generally skip those additives.

Soda Water

I find that chasing kava with some soda water works pretty well to mask the taste. There’s something about the sensation of the soda water bubbles in your mouth that overwhelms the taste buds, and kinda erases the flavor of the kava.

It’s worth trying, anyway.


With this, you should have the information you need to make high-quality kava, whether it’s a traditional root preparation, a micronized, or an Aluball preparation. Congrats, you now know how to make Kava!

Enjoy your Kava, and Bula!

160 thoughts on “How to Make Kava: The Definitive Guide”

  1. Ahaa, its pleasant dialogue concerning this paragraph here at this weblog, I have read all that,
    so at this time me also commenting at this place.

  2. Way cool, some valid points! I appreciate you making this article available, the rest of the site is also high quality. Have a fun.

  3. Yesterday, while I was at work, my sister stole my iphone
    and tested to see if it can survive a 30 foot drop,
    just so she can be a youtube sensation. My iPad is now destroyed
    and she has 83 views. I know this is totally off topic but I had to share it with

  4. whoah this blog is magnificent i like studying your posts.Keep up the good work! You realize, many individuals are searching around for this information, you can aid them greatly.

  5. With havin so much content do you ever run into any issues of plagorism or
    copyright infringement? My site has a lot of unique content I’ve either created myself or outsourced but it seems a
    lot of it is popping it up all over the internet
    without my agreement. Do you know any solutions to help protect against content from being
    stolen? I’d certainly appreciate it.

  6. Very great post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wanted to mention that I’ve really loved surfingaround your weblog posts. In any case I will be subscribingfor your feed and I’m hoping you write once more very soon!

  7. Excellent website. A lot of useful info here.
    I’m sending it to some friends ans additionally sharing in delicious.

    And of course, thank you for your sweat!

  8. I’m curious to find out what blog platform you are working with?
    I’m experiencing some small security issues with my latest blog and I’d like to find something more secure.
    Do you have any suggestions?

  9. These are genuinely impressive ideas in concerning blogging.
    You have touched some pleasant factors here. Any way
    keep up wrinting.

  10. With havin so much written content do you ever run into anyproblems of plagorism or copyright infringement?My site has a lot of completely unique content I’ve either authored myself oroutsourced but it seems a lot of it is popping it up all over theweb without my permission. Do you know any methods to help reduce content from being stolen? I’d truly appreciate it.

  11. We are a group of volunteers and opening a newscheme in our community. Your web site offered us with valuable information towork on. You’ve done an impressive job and our entire community will be thankful to you.

  12. Wonderful goods from you, man. I have understand your stuff previous to and
    you’re just extremely fantastic. I really like what you have acquired here,
    certainly like what you’re stating and the way in which you say
    it. You make it enjoyable and you still care for to keep
    it smart. I can’t wait to read much more from you.
    This is really a wonderful site.

  13. When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and noweach time a comment is added I get four emails with the samecomment. Is there any way you can remove people from that service?Thank you!

  14. of course like your web site however you have to check the spelling on several of your posts.

    Several of them are rife with spelling issues and I in finding it very troublesome to tell
    the reality however I will surely come back again.

  15. This is a great tip particularly to those fresh to the blogosphere.Short but very precise info… Many thanks for sharing thisone. A must read post!

  16. Hey there! I realize this is sort of off-topic however I
    had to ask. Does operating a well-established blog
    such as yours take a large amount of work? I am completely new to writing a blog however I do write in my journal everyday.

    I’d like to start a blog so I can share my personal experience and thoughts online.
    Please let me know if you have any kind of recommendations or tips for brand new aspiring blog owners.
    Appreciate it!

  17. Hi! I simply want to offer you a big thumbs up for the excellent info you’ve got here on this post.I will be returning to your web site for more soon.

  18. you are really a excellent webmaster. The site loading speed is amazing.
    It sort of feels that you’re doing any distinctive trick.
    Moreover, The contents are masterwork. you’ve done a great task on this topic!

  19. I am really inspired with your writing skills and also with the structure to your blog.Is this a paid subject matter or did you customize it yourself?Either way stay up the excellent quality writing, it’s rare to look a nice weblog like this one nowadays..

  20. We stumbled over here from a different web page and thought I should check things out.
    I like what I see so now i am following you. Look forward to going over your web page repeatedly.

  21. It¦s really a great and useful piece of info. I am satisfied that you just shared this useful info with us. Please stay us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

  22. I’m now not positive the place you’re getting your information, however good
    topic. I needs to spend a while finding out much more or figuring out more.
    Thanks for great info I was in search of this info for my mission.

  23. I am sure this article has touched all the internet users, its really really fastidious article
    on building up new blog.

  24. Nice post. I used to be checking continuously this blog and I am inspired!Very helpful information particularly the last section 🙂 I care for such information much.I used to be looking for this certain info for a long time.Thanks and good luck.

  25. With havin so much written content do you ever run into any issues of plagorism or copyright infringement?
    My website has a lot of unique content I’ve either authored myself or outsourced but it seems a lot of it is popping it up all over the web without
    my agreement. Do you know any ways to help protect
    against content from being ripped off? I’d certainly appreciate

  26. Heya i am for the first time here. I found this board and I find It really useful & it helped me
    out much. I hope to provide something back and help others such as you helped

  27. I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this postwas great. I don’t know who you are but definitely you are going to a famous blogger if youare not already 😉 Cheers!

  28. Hey! I’m at work browsing your blog from my new apple iphone!Just wanted to say I love reading through yourblog and look forward to all your posts! Keep up the superbwork!

  29. My brother recommended I may like this website. He was totallyright. This submit actually made my day. You can notbelieve just how much time I had spent for this info! Thanks!

  30. What’s up colleagues, how is all, and what you would like to say about this piece of writing, in my view its actually awesome in support of me.

  31. It’s really a great and useful piece of info. I am satisfied that youshared this helpful info with us. Please stay us informed like this.Thank you for sharing.

  32. My brother recommended I would possibly like this blog.He was totally right. This post truly made my day. You can not imagine just how much time I had spent for this information! Thankyou!

  33. I will rigһ awaʏ seize your rss as Ι ccan notfind your email subscription link or e-newsletter service.Do ʏou haѵe any? Kіndly ⅼet me understand in order that I could subscribe.Thanks.

  34. Hey! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any issues with hackers? My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing months of hard work due to no back up. Do you have any methods to stop hackers?

  35. This is a very good tip especially to those fresh to the blogosphere. Simple but very precise informationÖ Appreciate your sharing this one. A must read article!

  36. When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time acomment is added I get three emails with the same comment.Is there any way you can remove people from that service? Appreciate it!

  37. I do not even understand how I ended up here, but I thought this publishused to be good. I do not recognise who you might behowever definitely you’re going to a well-known blogger in caseyou are not already. Cheers!

  38. I like what you guys are up also. Such intelligent work and reporting! Keep up the excellent works guys I’ve incorporated you guys to my blogroll. I think it’ll improve the value of my site :).

  39. I conceive this internet site has some very good info for everyone :D. “I like work it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours.” by Jerome K. Jerome.

  40. I haven’t checked in here for a while since I thought it was getting boring, but the last few posts are good quality so I guess I’ll add you back to my daily bloglist. You deserve it my friend 🙂

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.