Smoke weed and get high, drink Kava and get grounded.
Drink beer and get wasted, drink Kava and get clean.
Kava drink is deeply rooted in Polynesian folklore, but it took about 3,000 years for the wonder substance to get to us. The earthy, blissfully potent plant has only been on our collective radar for about a decade and only in my bloodstream for about a year. And what a year that has been.
In the South Pacific, Kava is essentially the drug of choice – a sort of social lubricant alternative to alcohol. Fiji islanders prepare a beverage called Grog, made by pounding sun-dried kava root into a powder, straining and mixing it with cold water, and drunk from the half-shell of a coconut. Usually accompanied by music and storytelling. Or in my case, a pretty serious discussion of the Greek god Pan and an even more serious game of Jenga.
(Also getting creative with shadow puppets on the walls.)
We do it a little different. I began drinking Kava when my place of employment began getting shipments, in pursuit of a more fulfilling sort of afternoon bean-slinging and milk-steaming at the inherently magical Prestogeorge Coffee and Tea in Pittsburgh’s Strip District. As it turns out, using milk to make the drink (as opposed to doing it the Fijian water way) will produce stronger effects. We began to discuss how unnecessarily high the ceilings are in most supermarkets and Georgia O’Keefe’s peaches.
Upon a borderline spontaneous relocation to Miami, I became like, a total Kava-head. Because Kava Bars. Those are a thing here, now that Hollywood, Florida has turned all trendy. (Wait! The little Kava bar has been here since before Food Truck Monday pulled up and parked. What?) You think you’ve wandered too far west from the center of civilization, but then you come across this place called Mystic Waters Kava Bar and you’re all like, I better check this place out. Right now. The interior is like Tolkien’s Lothlórien, with less precision. And the music – it’s all Gershwin electronica. Basically. And it’s the driest bar of all, because not a drop of alcohol is served inside.
But all the Kava you could hope for.
So Kava’s active ingredients are the kavalactones; all are considered psychoactive. Their concentrations in kava plants vary, but “medical literature” describes the effects as producing “mild euphoria and relaxation.” I agree. You also get a nice, numb mouth and throat. And the half-lives of those lovely kavalactones are about 9 hours, so Kava-heads have some sequential lazy days.
And we like lazy days.