Nakamal At Home – Tongan “White” Kava

**This Kava is quite thick. The normal 1 cup of Kava to 2 cups of water will give you a sludge that won’t be very satisfying – and far too powerful to stomach. Instead, start out with 1 cup of Tongan Kava to 3 1/2 cups of water. I learned this the hard way, trust me. On the bright side (though there really isn’t a dark side), you’re going to get a lot more out of this than you would another variety.

I was very happy when I heard from the folks at Nakamal at Home that I had just ordered Kava that was fresh from the airport. I had heard things about Tongan Kava that were all but enthusiastic. “It’s kind of weak and it tastes different.” “Most of the Kava from Tonga really blows.” But I was happy that, assuming this Kava was going to be at least decent, it was fresh from Tonga and I could really wrap my mind around it and give my honest opinion. I could picture the journey from a bush garden in rural Tonga to Nuku’alofa, across the Pacific and the Gulf of Mexico to the southeast. I pictured the root harvested, sold at an outdoor market, ground, flown, processed, and finally poured into the airtight golden package in Boca Raton, Florida. True to their word, I received the package a few days later and opened it up, noticing that there was still powdery fingerprints on the package. That’s how fresh this stuff was. The freshest Kava I have ever brewed in the United States, hands down.

This Kava is really quite hard for me to explain. There is something so peculiar about it, something that I can’t quite find the words to explicate. I find that the name Nakamal has given it – “White Kava” – is really the best way to explain it. It is thicker and creamier than any other kind of Kava I have ever had. Its color truly is white – it looks like you are about to drink some kind of white chocolate coffee drink when you peer into the shell. I would even venture to say that this Kava looks and tastes like it could be a different plant altogether. It would already have been quite interesting to do an analysis of different varieties of Kava, but with this contestant thrown in the mix we truly see the endless surprises the world of Kavasseuring has to offer. In that sense, this Kava is already a welcome addition to the pantheon of Kava gods we have learned to give offerings to.

On a side note, let me just rephrase that this Kava was fresh. By fresh, I mean that it tasted like it was harvested within the last thirty days. It still had the flavor of a fresh garden root. The ground root was literally exploding with scent and earthy powder. The folks at Nakamal at Home have to be intensely congratulated for their hard work. You guys rock!

The taste of Tongan Kava is considerably different from that of a Vanuatu Kava. As stated above, it is creamier and thicker. But there is also something else that can only be explained as a “chalkiness.” And before you cringe, remember that that is not a bad thing. This is Kava we are talking about, after all. It goes down smoothly but has a kick at the end that makes you feel like you are truly taking a shot of something. But it has a nice, almost menthol-like effect on the mouth that sticks around for at least twenty minutes. As I write this, I am draining my third (and last) shell for the night, dwelling on the flavors. There is an incredible sweetness that you will notice while taking it down, a sweetness that you will probably forget about once you get to the chalkiness. That sweetness, however, seems to be what gives you the aftertaste. Just for the sheer surprise of its difference and thick, chalky goodness, this Kava rocks the charts in terms of its flavor.

The great thing about being a Kavasseur is that Kava isn’t the kind of thing that you grow accustomed to. You can never drink so much Kava that you will need to drink more and more to get krunked. Nope, quite the opposite. It is one of the stranger substances in this world in that when you drink it, over time, you actually become more sensitive to it. Coming into this Tongan Kava I can freely say that I drink Kava probably at least once every three days. Typically, I drink enough of it to “feel good.” By that, I mean I drink either three or four shells, or two cups of the super-potent Shaman Instant Kava. Being an anthropologist who has to write quite a lot, I love Kava because I can drink it and then dive into my prose. I can also journey deep into texts with a fully alert mind – yet a completely relaxed being. Obviously, I am krunked as I write this. Suffice it to say that Tongan Kava is a step in a new direction if you are a Kava drinker. It even provides you with a buzz that I am still unsure of how to explain. Strangely, it might be best to say that this Kava feels like a more powerful muscle relaxer than other Kavas. It is less heady, more relaxing, and brings you to a kind of blissful tiredness that could never be confused with lack of inertia or enthusiasm. This is the perfect end-of-the-workday Kava. I am incredibly pleased, and will probably buy more of this Kava than any other. It will surprise you in its sheer difference from other Kavas. Enjoy it.

Taste – 8.5/10
Effect – 8.5/10

Nakamal at Home – Tongan “White” Kava – 8 1/2 shells out of 10

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