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What is Kava Kava Tea?

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  • Written By: Tracey Parece
  • Edited By: J.T. Gale
  • Last Modified Date: 26 November 2016
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Kava kava tea is a beverage made from roots of the Piper methysticum plant, which can be found in Micronesia, Polynesia, and Melanesia. To prepare this tea, either fresh or dried kava root is ground and mixed with hot water at a temperature not exceeding 140° Fahrenheit (60° Celsius) because higher temperatures diminish the potency of the kava. After steeping for up to 30 minutes, the kava pulp is strained and separated from the liquid through a cheesecloth or muslin. Using fresh kava root produces a more potent concoction than dried, however the dried root is more readily available. Kava kava tea has traditionally been consumed for relief of stress and anxiety.

Another method of preparing kava kava tea involves using a crock pot to slowly heat the mixture of ground or powdered kava root and water. The crock pot typically should be used at its lowest setting to ensure the beneficial effects of the beverage are not destroyed. As alternatives to making the drink with water, a person could use soy milk, cow milk, or coconut milk. The active ingredients in kava kava are called kavalactones, and liquids that contain fats are particularly effective at extracting them. Another option is to make the kava kava tea with cool or cold water instead of hot water.

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Instant kava removes the need for grinding, steeping, or straining the root during the production of kava kava tea. It is derived from kava juice and typically dissolves completely in water for an easy, non-gritty beverage that still contains the kavalactones that provide kava's calming and soothing effects. Some users find it far more convenient to use instant kava, particularly when on the go.

Side effects from kava include drowsiness and impaired reaction time. Additional side effects may result from doses exceeding 310 grams per week and from prolonged use. These side effects include dry skin, dizziness, visual impairment, shortness of breath, and liver damage. High blood pressure, blood cell abnormalities, and reduced protein levels are also possible side effects. Prescription medication and alcohol generally should not be combined with kava kava extract.

Kava kava tea is not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. People with Parkinson's disease are advised to avoid kava kava because it may worsen their condition. People with liver problems typically should consult a physician prior to taking any dietary supplements containing kava. Likewise, kava usually should be discontinued and a doctor should be contacted for advice if symptoms of liver problems occur during its use. Although an allergic reaction to kava is uncommon, some people experience an itchy throat, itchy skin, or hives on the abdominal region.

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ZipLine
Post 3

The directions on my kava kava tea say to steep the tea in boiling water! If water that is too hot reduces the potency of the tea, why do they recommend using boiling water? I don't understand.

I would like to try homemade kava kava tea from the roots sometime. I don't really trust the commercial kava kava tea products. Many of them have little kava and more of other herbs and spices. They probably do that to improve the taste but it makes me doubt the effectiveness of the tea.

SarahGen
Post 2

@turquoise-- I don't see why they wouldn't be just as beneficial since kava tea bags also have dry kava in them.

The best way to know whether a particular brand or type of kava kava tea works is by trying it. I've heard people say various things about kava kava tea. Some love it and say that it works, while other people say that it does nothing. I'm sure it also has to do with the quality of the product and how the tea is steeped.

turquoise
Post 1

I saw kava tea at the store, in regular tea bags. Is this type of kava tea just as beneficial as fresh kava root tea?

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