Despite Vanuatu Kava Store’s claim that Tanna Kaolik is the strongest Kava from Tanna Island in Vanuatu, Tanna Kaolik is overall a relatively mild Kava that is appropriate for weekday consumption. I thought I was going to be getting myself into something overwhelming when I squeezed out a batch of Tanna, but in the end I was able to drink about 5 cups and only get a mild buzz with a little bit of pleasant tiredness.

Vanuatu Kava Store’s two Tanna Kavas – Tanna Kaolik and Tanna Marang – both come from Tanna Island in Vanuatu. The video featured on Vanuatu Kava Store’s website which is used to aid Kava drinkers in how to brew Kava features scenes from Tanna Island.
Tanna Kava is definitely not a “strong” Kava, as advertised on the VKS website. Again, it is difficult to know whether this is a problem with consistency or just because it is simply not a strong Kava. It is, at best, a slightly relaxing Kava that provides a good way to wind down after a long day. Unfortunately for Tanna Kaolik, there is already a perfect Kava for that – Malekula Magic. If I’m putting down money at the Vanuatu Kava Store, it’s going to be on Malekula Magic.
In terms of taste, it is a pretty run-of-the-mill Kava with no really impressive differences. It has a pretty mild numbing effect and can be described as a slightly peppery, somewhat bitter Kava that is comparable to other Vanuatu Kavas, such as Nakamal at Home’s Black Sand. Again, I am not a huge fan of the bouquet of flavors provided by Vanuatu Kavas – I prefer the milky, nutty taste of a Tongan Kava or the fresh, delicious flavor of a Fijian Kava. That being said, VKS’ Malekula Magic is a Vanuatuan Kava that is prepared by peeling the roots before drying and grounding them. Reviewed earlier, Malekula Magic is one of my favorites. Tanna Kaolik is not.
Taste – 7.5/10
Effect (Mind) – 7/10
Effect (Body) – 7/10
Strength – Mild
Vanuatu Kava Store’s Tanna Kaolik – 7.2 out of 10 shells

*A NOTE FROM KAVASSEUR* This Kava reviewing business is much more difficult than many people would imagine, especially when it has grown to be something significant in the online Kava drinking world. I’ll be the first to admit that my ranking scales are slightly difficult to interpret, and have evolved over time as I’ve tried new Kavas. I’ve even had to go back and tinker with old reviews because some of them were too low – or too high. Additionally, Piper methysticum tends to be a fickle plant – some perk you up, some wind you down, some “stone” you, some are better for sore muscles, some are better for colorful dreams, and some can even bring a spark to a relationship. To even further complicate things, Kava builds up in your system and can increase in effect as you drink it. In the end, you are the judge of what Kava is best for you. What I try to do with this blog is explain how Kava hits me and what some of the stand-out Kavas are. I realize that people who enjoy the taste of Kava are NOT a dime a dozen, so when I digress on what I consider to be a “delicious” Kava, just bear with me…

First of all, three “Bulas!” to Vanuatu Kava Store for making some of the best tasting Kava available online. On all three reviews of VKS’ Kavas I have praised them for making fine-tasting Kava. This review will be make no exception to that trend. I can still remember making a gallon of Pentecost Pride for some first-timers who commented “this stuff is not as bad as you told us it would be.”

Malekula Magic is a beautiful Kava – in color, taste, feeling, texture, and effect. I know that it seems like every Kava that is passing through my sieves these days is getting rave reviews, but I feel like I’ve just hit a good stretch of road. It is like test driving a lot of different cars that you are really happy with – which one do you choose? With Kava, it is a good idea to have a lot of different varieties around. To the real Kavasseur, Kava is an almost daily ritual. You want something that is perfect for almost every state of mind. An alcohol-replacement for a Saturday night (Nakamal at Home’s Solomon Kava, Chief’s Jungle, or Stone), a relaxing Kava after a stressful day (definitely this Malekula Magic, Nakamal at Home’s Tongan Kava, Pacific Kava’s Waka Kava), a middle-of-the-road Kava for a weekday where you don’t have to wake up too early the next day (Nakamal at Home’s Niugini or Black Sand), and a good middle-of-the-day Kava for stressful days (VKS’ Quick Kava). I’ve added a new aspect to my reviews – strength. This will reflect how much a particular Kava, well, gets you “high.”

According to the Vanuatu Kava Store’s website “when you buy Vanuatu kava of this [Malekula Magic] type expect a milder taste and a mellow ride and buzz.” Indeed. This is almost the perfect description of this Kava, but I will elaborate on it a little bit. Malekula Magic is prepared by harvesting the roots of the plant and then peeling the skin off of the root. The “bitter” taste that often comes with Kava mostly comes from the skin of the roots. Malekula Magic, in other words, doesn’t have the “bite” that most Kavas do. Even if you like – nay, love – the bitter peppery taste associated with a hearty Vanuatuan Kava, you will still absolutely love the taste of Malekula Magic. It doesn’t really have that “milky” taste typical of a Tongan or Fijian variety, but more of just a level, slightly sweet flavor that seems to be all low notes with almost an almond-like aftertaste. Ideal for newbies in flavor, but still delicious for someone who drinks a lot of Kava and can appreciate a more sophisticated taste.

Malekula Magic is definitely, as described by Vanuatu Kava Store, “mellow.” It gives you a very nice, earthy buzz that works the same in the head as it does on the body. In this sense, Malekula Magic provides a more “balanced” buzz than most Kavas. Some Kavas have quite an “off-kilter” effect. Solomon Kava and Chief’s Jungle, for example, give you a very powerful head buzz (Solomon being the most disorienting of them all), but Malekula Magic is like a full body massage with a bonus headbuzz. Music sounds absolutely wonderful – for some reason I automatically reached for some Van Morrison. It makes you want to stretch your body out and just put all the stuff that has been bothering you for the day – or the week – aside. If I had to pick an everyday-consumption Kava right now, I’d pick Malekula. Why spend money for a Spa when you could just drink four shells of Malekula? This Kava would be worth keeping a kilo around. If you don’t believe me, try it for yourself!

Again, this Kava deserves the rating it gets.

Taste – 9/10
Buzz – 9.5/10
Body – 9.5/10
Strength – Medium (Weekday Grade)

Vanuatu Kava Store’s Malekula Magic – 9.3 shells out of 10