Kava Glossary

Kava Glossary

The Hawaiian term for Kava

Acetone Test
A simple solvent test that Dr. Lebot came up with, which anyone can perform, to test whether your Kava is a ""Noble"" or ""Tudei"" type of Kava. When the Kava is mixed with an Acetone solvent, it will display a light golden color if it's a ""Noble"" Kava and a darker reddish color if it's a ""Tudei"" Kava. Please keep in mind that acetone tests are preliminary and do not always indicate nobility. Kavas that fail the acetone tests should be forwarded to a lab for further testing.

Adulterated Kava

Adulterated Kava is any kava product that is sold with more than one type of kava or other substances. You should be very careful to make sure you know exactly what you're are purchasing before consuming it.

Kava making product offered by Kavafied. A protein shaker like device used to make kava from dry powder. Consists of shaker bottle, and golf-ball like pod with stainless steel mesh in which to put the dry kava. You add water, shake, and pour the resulting prepared kava into your shell.

A type of lotion commonly used to partially reverse and treat more aggressive cases of kava dermapothy. Note: it is highly advised that amlactin not be applied to any broken or bleeding skin, or you may experience an intense (very painful) burning sensation.

One of the official languages of Vanuatu. The name comes from the French word ""Beche-le-mer"" meaning sea cucumber. Trade in this animal (along with sandalwood) is what initially brought larger numbers of Europeans to Vanuatu before it was colonised, and as a common language was needed to aid in this trade with locals, the pidgin that later became known as Bislama was born.
Many Bislama words are of English origin; the remainder combines words from French, as well as some vocabulary inherited from various indigenous languages of Vanuatu. It's best described as an English vocabulary with an Oceanic grammar.
Example: ""Mi no wantem bia. Mi wantem kava."" ~ I don't want a beer, I want some Kava.

Capsules and Pills
Kava Capsules and Pills are essentially ground Kava Root packed into typically a gel cap or similar container. They are consumed like you would take other pills made with gel caps. The gel cap disolves in your stomach once swallowed and the Kava powder is metabolized by the stomach. In a way it is similar to consuming Kava using the Toss 'n Wash technique. The main problem with capsules is that they are inordinately expensive, and you need to consume many capsules to obtain any really good Kava effects.

Abbreviation used for Bula Kava House

It's a six digit number that lists in decreasing order the relative amounts of kavalactones found in a particlular cultivar of kava. There are a variety of kavalactones, but the six major ones are:
1 = demethoxy-yangonin
2 = Dihydrokavain
3 = Yangonin
4 = Kavain
5 = Dihydromethysticin
6 = Methysticin
For example, the chemotype ""465213"" for the Fu'u variety of kava, means that 4 (Kavain) is the most prominent kavalactone found in this plant. The next one 6 (Methysticin) is found in this plant but to a lessor degree than 4 (Kavain). You can't tell how much less, but less than than the number that preceds it.

COA stands for ""Certificate of Analysis"". It's origin comes from the government of the Vanuatu island who require that all Kava to be exported from Vanuatu be chemically tested to verify that it is a ""Noble"" type of Kava. Other labs outside of Vanuatu are used to chemically test Kava and produce their own COA. There is no standard for what is tested and reported in the COA. Common information found in a COA is geographic region of harvest, age of root, chemotype, Kavalactone percentages, microscopy for adulterants, HPTLC for positive ID and Flavokavain levels, microbiological reports, as well as heavy metals and pesticide screening.

A Kava Cultivar describes or denotes a specific strain of a Kava plant. All modern day Kava cultivars (species) are sterile. The plant can only spread through direct human involvement and action. Female flowers are especially rare and do not produce fruit even when hand-pollinated. Its propagation is entirely due to man’s efforts by methods of striking. From man's intentional efforts, specific cultivars are either propagated, eliminated, or cross-bred to create new Kava cultivars.

A reversible skin condition that occurs in some Kava drinkers after prolonged use. It results in dry, scaly skin and may itch or hurt. The dermopathy may actually continue to spread after Kava use is discontinued, but should begin to recede and disappear within 2-3 weeks (but most recover sooner).

Kava extracts use Kavalactone extraction by using solvents that produce a concentrated product that is usually a solid mass with a soft paste like consistency. The resulting Kava paste is normally consumed sub-lingual, under the tongue. The benefit of this technique is the paste is easily absorbed into the body and bypasses the need for the stomach to metabolize the Kava lactones. Common examples of extracts are high pressure CO2 extractions made by passing supercritical CO2 through a bed of material. Besides CO2, ethanol and other alcohols can be used to extract Kava, but are seen as possibly harmful because the solvents may extract other unwanted compounds from the Kava root.

FKB and Flavokavain-B
FKB is an abbreviation for Flavokavain-B. It is a chalconoid that is extracted from the kava plant. It contains some hepatotoxic properties that are deemed potentially harmful to the liver and other properties that are reported to have significant anti-tumor effects on several carcinoma cell lines. Found in small quantities in all kava, more so in non-noble kavas. To date we have yet to see any direct injury to a kava drinker from this substance.

Fresh Kava
The mythical unicorn of the kava world. Readily available to those in kava producing countries or states, but to the bulk of us this is a rare treat. Fresh kava is typically harvested, washed, peeled, and ground pulverised or chewed for immediate consumption, and on a much smaller scale frozen for transport and resale. New products are hitting the market on a regular basis in this area. From fresh frozen to bottled green kava. Just as magical as this treat sounds to actually find and purchase, the effects are just as magical. Fresh kava is nothing like powdered kava in terms of effects profile. It is recommended that every Kava lover to at least once sample some fresh Kava.

Abbreviation commonly used for the vendor ""Gourmet Hawaiian Kava""

A batch of Kava that is usually made using the traditional method. Although commonly used, the term ""Grog"" originated in Fiji and is prominently a Fijian phrase.

Person who has to drink an obscene amount of kava to get any effects.

Heady (Brain Load)
Heady Kava describes a Kava that produces more effects on your mind than on your body. It can be, euphoria, spaciness or just a gentle uplifting to your outlook and sense of well-being. It gives you a light, clean, whimsical contentment that has a lot of cognitive, psychological and emotional effects (mental relaxation, motivation, empathy, mood uplift, etc.) An energizing, cerebral side effect often used to describe a specific strain of kava kava.

Heavy (Body Load)
Heavy Kava describes a Kava that produces more effects on your body than your mind. The effects can be felt more in your body & muscles and gives you an all-around slow & sedating experience. It can relax your muscles, usually relieve some pain, and make your body feel very heavy as you sink into the couch, along with (usually) heavy sedation.

Some definitions that are more on the humorous side. Not to be taken seriously.

When something said or done results in interfering with the full relaxation of your kava buzz. Akin to 'harshing' one's 'mellow'.

term according to BULABUCK which ensues after a krunk-n-nap


Don't close your eyes too long when you blink after drinking ""Kalm with Kava"". You'll be kalmatose on the couch for 3 hours.

Mixing standard traditionally prepped kava with ""Kalm With Kava Relaxation Drink"". Makes for a wickedly potent kava beverage that tastes much better than your standard grog.

A person who invents or discovers a new, never been done before, way to prepare or consume kava and lives to tell about it. (see related: Kavaghost)

A person who didn't survive being a Kavaneer and now shares shells with Casper.

Can't remember where you stored your Kava stash. Or because a Kavaniva hid it for their own use.

A term used to identify those whom are connivers and skilled in the practice of thieving kava.

Bislama term for prepared kresh kava that is a few hours old and has ""turned"" or gone off, making it sour and acidic and giving rise to abundant dry retching.

Drinking Kava sometimes causes you to take a nap.

The only kava cultivar powerful enough to soothe your mind after finding yourself entangled in yet another discussion about Tudei.
(also: 3-day, Tridei, Fridei ; Spanish: pasado-mañana-dei)

Favorite Bislama Phrases
- a piano is black fala box we igat black teeth, hemi gat white teeth you faetem hard I singout…
- a violin - wan smol box blong white man, oli scratchem beli I singout gudfala
- His Royal Highness, Prince Charles is known as nambawan pikinini blong Missus Kwin…
- A helicopter - mixmaster blong Jesus Christ
a bra is - basket blong titi…

High Performance Liquid Chromatography. A method of separating out and measuring the amounts of different chemicals in a sample. Deleted User has a HPLC machine that he uses to measure the concentrations of the different kavalactones in kava samples.

Instant Kava
Instant kava is kava which is produced from the dehydration of prepared powdered Kava. Either fresh kava juice, or prepared root that has gone through the traditional dry powdered prep is used. This is not to be confused with micronized kava which is simply the root stock which has been ground to a very fine consistency. The resulting Kava is mixed with water and consumed without the need for straining or any type of traditional preparation methods.

ISA Kava
Isa (pronounced eesa) is a Tudei type of kava which usually comes from PNG (the island of Papua New Guinea).

[email protected]
Abbreviation commonly used for the vendor ""Nakamal At Home""

A kava drinking clubhouse in Tonga

Kani Kani
The Fijian term for kava dermopathy.

A term to describe an experienced Kava drinker who understands and appreciates all the subtleties of the effects derived from consuming various Kava products. Douglas La Rose is the ""original"" grand-master of all Kavasseurs.

Knead and squeeze
See Traditional Preparation.

Koniak and Waeld Koniak
The local name for Kava in PNG (the island of Papua New Guinea). It's a PNG pidgin term that means ""cognac"". Waeld Koniak is the local name for a wild growing Piper wichmanii plant (a relative to the kava plant). It's a PNG pidgin term that means ""wild cognac"".

A term to describe the inebriating effect one can get from consuming Kava in excess. Some people strive to get ""Krunked"", while others frown on it and believe it's an abuse of Kava consumption. Kavaforums holds no official stance of how much is ""too much"". If you listen carefully, the kava will tell you when enough is enough.

Abbreviation commonly used for the kava vendor ""Kalm With Kava""

100% Kava plant Basal Stump from Fiji

Listening to the kava
From a Vanuatu Bislama term meaning to stay quiet, sitting still, and enjoying the effects of the kava without distractions.

""Makas"" is a Bislama term meaning the used insoluble part of the kava discarded after mixing - and can refer to fresh or dried kava ground, pounded or chewed. Makas is sometimes mistakenly used to describe the larger pieces of fibrous root found in unused ground kava - but it is not makas until the kava has been prepared. Makas is what you throw out after making a batch of traditional kava - the damp strained mass left in your straining cloth.

Micronized (also referred to as ""micro)
Whole kava root, or processed kava root that has been ground in a way that breaks the particle size down to the micron level. Straining this type of kava is exceedingly difficult with normal preparation materials, and as such is commonly consumed without straining.

A traditional kava drinking and meeting ground in Vanuatu, usually a clearing in the bush on the edge of a village. Also, in more modern times (1985+), used to describe a commercial kava bar such as those found in Port Vila, Luganville and a few other peri-urban areas (Isangel, Lakatoro etc).

A term that describes a person new to Kava. It is not a slight on the person to call them a Newbie. It just simply implies, the person is someone who doesn't understand Kava really well yet and is inexperienced in preparing and consuming Kava. In fact this site loves to see Newbies become members!!

Noble varieties are Kavas which are high in Kavain kavalactones, and low in the double bonded kavalactones such as DHM or DHK. The term ""Noble"" comes from the Vanuatu island, but applies to all Kavas of this type regardless of it's origin.

The term used to reference a kava's texture when kneading in a strainer bag. Akin to squeezing a bag of wet clay. Normally the root is massaged until this is no longer detectable and it feels more gritty than oily.

Palisi Kava
Palisi is a Tudei type of kava which normally comes from PNG (the island of Papua New Guinea).

Piper Methysticum
The proper scientific name for the Kava plant.

Abbreviation for Papua New Guinea, a country on the island of New Guinea.

A Tanoa is a Samoan or Fijian kava bowl, in which kava is both prepared and served. Typically a Fijian tanoa has 4 legs and a lug for hanging, whilst a traditional Samoan tanoa has up to 20 legs. They vary from 12 inches diameter right up to 4 feet or so. A tongan kava bowl is similar to the Fijian style and is known as a Kumete.

RT (Reverse Tolerance)
Reverse tolerance is defined by the kava community as the ""break in"" period where the new kava consumer may not feel any effects at all from kava. It is theorized that for some people a certain level of kavalactone buildup in the body must be present before one begins to feel the full effects from kava. The range of time it may take to overcome the reverse tolerance ranges per individual, from weeks to up to a month and a half. Some individuals feel the effects immediately.

Root or Rooted
Kava refers to the products that are made from the Piper methysticum plant. All Kava should come from only the roots of the plant, and not the leaves or stems. The leaves or stems are known to have a level of toxicity that should ""always"" be avoided. Saying ""that is some good root"" means it's good Kava. Saying ""I'm really rooted"" means they are enjoying good effects from the Kava they are consuming.

The local name for kava in Micronesia.

Refers to a single cup of your Grog that one drinks by either sipping or chugging. A real traditional shell is a half-coconut hollowed out and polished and holds approx. 8 to 12oz of your Kava Grog. But it can really be anything, like a coffee cup, a small bowl, or even a water bottle.

Refers to the act of drinking kava at work and chilling.

A strainer is any porous material that is used during Kava preparation to help separate the Kava lactones from the Kava root pulp. Common strainers used are Fijian bags, Muslin bags, hops strainers, T-Shirts, nylon pantyhose, fine paint strainers, to mention a few. The extracted Kava lactones are consumed and the Kava root pulp (makas) is usually discarded.

Kava Tinctures use alcohols or other solvents to extract Kava lactones from the root of the Kava plant. The result of the extraction is a concentrated liquid that is commonly stored and consumed from a small bottle with a dropper cap. Tinctures are fast acting and are easily absorbed into your system. However, alcohol solvents also extract other unwanted compounds from the Kava root that are seen as possibly harmful . It is recommended that you avoid making or using Tinctures for the time being, until further evidence is found about its safety.

Toss and Wash
Mixing kava root in water and drinking it without straining. Often done with micronized kava. May cause more digestive upset and other side effects than strained kava.

Traditional Preparation
This refers to preparing your Kava as closely as possible to the way the Pacific islanders, from long ago, prepared their Kava. There are many variations to preparing Kava, but the most common one, and most ""traditional"", is to place your Kava in a strainer, in a bowl of fresh water and then for a period of time, continuously knead, massage, and squeeze the Kava that's in the strainer and covered in the water until as many Kava lactones are extracted from the Kava root as possible.

Tudei Kava
Tudei is a Vanuatu island Bislama pidgin word for ""two day Kava"". It's a non noble variety of Kava because it is more saturated in heavier, double bonded kavalactones which tend to produce effects that can last up to several days. Tudei Kavas contain significantly greater amounts of Flavokavain B than noble which ""may"" have some negative health effects. It is generally suggested against intentionally ingesting tudei kava.

Ringing of the Ears
A temporary, potential side effect from drinking very strong kava. Common after drinking fresh kava that has been prepared by chewing. It mimics the medical condition of tinnitus but usually last until the half life of kava takes its course.

Fijian kava made entirely from lateral roots.

The local name for Kava in Fiji.

Micronized Kava

Whole kava root, or processed kava root that has been ground in a way that breaks the particle size down to the micron level. This grind is much finer than medium or "traditional" grind.

Instant Kava

Instant kava is kava which is produced from the dehydration of prepared Kava. Either fresh kava juice, or prepared root that has gone through the traditional dry powdered prep is used. This is not to be confused with micronized kava which is simply the root stock which has been ground to a very fine consistency. The resulting Kava is mixed with water and consumed without the need for straining or any type of traditional preparation methods.

The Differences Between Grinds

  1. Visual fineness of grind
    • Instant kava will appear as fine as talc, whereas micronized may have a more grainy appearance or texture
  2. Effect
    • Instant kava tends to be more effective, but the end quality will always strictly depend on the quality of the kava used to begin the process. If you have the option with one particular type of kava between micronized and instant, the instant will be stronger.
  3. Cost
    • Instant kava is much more expensive due to the processes used to create it.
  4. Texture
    • Instant kava will generally be much more smooth than micronized kavas. Micronized kavas may have a slightly gritty texture, depending on how the source material was prepared by the processor.