A ceremonial drink in Polynesian culture and an effective natural treatment for anxiety, kava tea is an effective natural treatment for anxiety but it may be a drink that you may or may not know of.
So, what exactly is Kava tea, and how can you make it?
Kava Tea's Effects
Kava root, with the Latin name piper methysticum literally translates to "intoxicating pepper". This is due to its close relation to chili peppers. Kava tea is made from this root and gives the signature relaxing and stress-reducing effect. Native to the South Pacific Islands, this tea has been consumed for the last two thousand years.
Due to its amazing effects, it has recently become popular in western countries, especially the US and Germany, as it has become a popular treatment for anxiety and alcoholism. Kava tea is also used in addiction centers as a treatment for alcoholism as it has a similar anxiolytic effect as alcohol without the side effects or the hangover. Kava tea reduces pain sensations as well. That's right! Drinking kava tea will make one feel calm and euphoric, relieving one of any anxiety as well. Many people also turn to kava tea to treat sleep issues and insomnia.
This tranquilizing effect is due to a compound in kava called kavalactones, which accounts for about 2-30% of the kava root weight. These affect the neurotransmitters in the brain, one of which is gamma-aminobutyric, or GABA, and research also shows that kava tea can decrease the activity of nerves. This can have psychotropic effects that may relax the muscles and act as a sedative.
There’s some debate whether kava tea actually has these effects or if people are just feeling the placebo effect, but not enough research has been done.
Where can you try it?
You might be able to go to a kava bar and actually some of this delicious tea made from fresh kava root. Or, if you're unable to find one, you can always make kava tea at home with kava root in dried or powdered form.
Things to consider before consuming kava tea
There are several main ways to make this tea that may require different efforts or time periods. Keep in mind that kava tea must always be made at room temperature or warm water as boiling or hot water will make a very potent drink and render the taste and consistency impossible for consumption. Kava plant powder is also available in the market; some of these don't need to be steeped or strained even. The instant kava tea products may have lower levels of the compound kavalactones, but it's easy to make a cup in no time due to convenience.
The tea is renowned for its unpleasant taste, but adding fat can improve the taste as well as the extraction process. Whole milk, almond milk or creamer can be added as per one's preferences.
Usually, experts and indigenous communities recommend drinking kava tea on an empty stomach as this allows the ingredients to absorb into your system much more efficiently. This could make you a little nauseous, but nothing a little fruit can't fix.
Let's look over the traditional method of making kava tea.
- Take the right dosage- this would be about 10 grams per person. This is roughly equivalent to 3-4 tablespoons of the kava powder.
- Make a little tea bag: take a muslin cloth and tie up the powder with a string. This will allow the tea to steep and let the water through.
- Dip the bag into a bowl of water and leave it to soak. Ideally, per serving should have about 1 cup of water.
- Now you must gently sway the bag in the water and be careful about not letting any of the powder loose in your tea.
- In 10 mins, your tea is ready. You can serve the water as tea now, but you don't need to discard the bag; it's good enough to make couple more drinks.
- If you've never had kava tea before, it's best to have it chilled. The taste of the tea can be quite unpleasant for first-timers.
Using a blender or a processor
You can also use a blender or a food processor to steep the tea.
- Measure out the tea, 10 grams or 3-4 tablespoons per serving
- Add warm water, about 10 to 12 ounces
- Blend or process on high for 4 minutes
- Strain the mixture and serve chilled
Now there are some who don't like the kava tea's taste or consistency, so they turn to kava tea in pill form. An effective dose of the compound kavalactones is around 70-250 mg, and some capsules can offer up to 100 mg.
So the next time you’re up for trying something unique or are feeling anxious, get yourself some kava tea and have a little “me” time.