Drinking Kava Tea
The controversy as to whether kava tea is really a tea at all needs to be addressed. The true definition of tea is along the lines of any of various beverages that are made by steeping the leaves of certain plants or by extracting an infusion. Most definitions of tea also include a reference to boiling water. Kava Kava tea is neither made from the leaves of the kava plant, nor is it made with boiling water.
Kava tea is most certainly not consumed from a tea cup on any occasion. Unless you are in the jungles of Tanna, Vanuatu where they seem to think that this is fine. The kava tea they make there is so strong that more than one cup should not be drank unless you are an experienced user of kava. If you do not heed this warning be prepared to be carried back to your hut by the women in the tribe like the guy on Survivor 9 in Vanuatu was.
So can kava kava tea be rightfully called a tea at all? That is a good question. We will try to answer it.
We at Nakamal At Home believe that the kava drink can honestly be called kava tea because of the portion of the definition that references the extracting of an infusion. An infusion is the liquid product obtained by infusing. In order to make kava kava tea, ground kava root is infused in water. The kavalactones, or active ingredients inside of the kava root are then extracted mechanically by squeezing the infused kava pulp in a strainer. The liquid that is produced is the kava tea. In a tea drink as we know it the essence of the particular tea being used is extracted by dissolution in water alone and is not mechanically pressed from the tea bag or tea ball. The next time someone asks you whether or not kava tea can really be called a tea, notify them that the answer is yes. Kava tea is a tea by definition even though the recipe does not call or any leaves or boiling water. We will offer this condolence to those die hard tea critics out there that disagree with our philosophy, we will go so far as to say that kava tea is probably best described as an herbal tea.
Now lets talk a minute about putting kava root into boiling water as is done with tea in a tea bag. The kava contains active ingredients called kavalactones. These kavalactones are very sensitive chemicals. They should not be subjected to temperatures as high as that of boiling water. The active ingredients will be destroyed. If the active ingredients of the kava tea are destroyed that means that you are drinking this beverage for no reason and have effectively wasted your hard earned money. Where is the value proposition in that?
Many kava tea products on the market that come in tea bags. Many of these products do not have enough kava root in them to cause any effect in the consumer that they seek and they are quite expensive. These products are also often mixed with other herbs like Valerian root, St. Johns Wort, Chamomile, and others that are known for their relaxing properties. If you wish to experience the full blown effects from indulging in some kava tea, we recommend that you try making it the way it has been consumed for thousands of years and throw those tea bags out, or try to get your money back from wherever they were purchased.
For a good recipe of how to make kava tea in the traditional form see our page with the kava recipe.