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Home / News / Types of Kava

Types of Kava

Diana Grace image

By Diana Grace

Published November 5, 2021

This may be very hard for you to believe, but there are some humans who do not like ice cream. These people may in fact be bitter, angry, trolls, but nevertheless, it’s true. They are unable to appreciate the deliciousness that is ice cream.

Those nay-sayers cannot begin to understand the flavor profile of soft-serve vanilla versus a scoop of vanilla Blue Bell versus a bowl of homemade vanilla ice cream. Homemade vanilla ice cream. Now there are some serious variations in homemade vanilla.

Skim milk, 2% milk, whole milk, organic grass-fed whole milk, heavy cream, half and half … Ice cream can technically be made with any of those. Then what if it’s made from raw milk straight from the cow. The diet of those cows can actually affect the flavor of the ice cream. Grasses and grains directly influence the flavor.

Yep. Mother Nature is the perfect provider of variations. Yes, indeed. Flora and fauna are perfect examples of the variety. They vary within the area of each country they grow in. The flora and fauna growing in a rainforest is vastly different from what we’d find in Scotland or the Alps or the islands found all over the Pacific. 

Holy smokes … There are well over sixty thousand different species of trees throughout the world. That is a whole lot of trees! Even with the thousands upon thousands of species, they can all be put into one of two categories: deciduous or coniferous. Deciduous trees have leaves and coniferous trees have needles.

We could go on and on about all the flora and fauna in the world, but we won’t. We just want to talk to you about our personal favorite, piper methysticum. That is the scientific name for kava. 


How Many Types of Kava Are There?

Like the other flora and fauna in the world, there are many things to know about the types of kava. Perhaps the first thing you should know is that there are over one hundred different varieties of kava.

All of this kava springs from the island countries sprinkled throughout the Pacific. Each island has its own climate that directly affects the kava that grows there. To completely understand how kava has so many different varieties, we would need to trace it back through the history of the islands.

Each island loves its particular type of kava. We don’t know exactly when kava was first recognized and used, but we know it was consumed quite sometime before the late 1700s. Most people believe that it was first grown and consumed by the island natives of Northern Vanuatu, more specifically the island of Maewo.

Vanuatu is known for being home to the most kava varieties in one area. This island has more types of kava than all of the other islands. It is no wonder that the island of Vanuatu is also responsible for producing the strongest kava to be found anywhere.

The immigrants from Vanuatu would then take kava with them to the other Polynesian and Melanesian islands. Along with several other plants are called canoe plants because they were spread to other cultures by natives carrying them on canoes to the other islands. 

Many of these travelers were carrying the noble kava with them. Some of this kava was referred to as the “War Kava” because the tribes were hoping to avoid war by drinking their happiness-inducing kava. The tribes at odds with each other would gather to talk about their problems while drinking their War Kava because they could usually settle their dispute without going to war.

Maybe some of us could drink Marriage Kava or Teen Drama Kava and avoid some major blowups! Wouldn’t that be amazing?!

How To Propagate Kava

Did you know that kava plants are sterile? Yep. It’s extremely difficult to get your hands on a female kava flower. What makes it even more challenging is that even if you painstakingly hand-pollinate those rare female kava flowers, they still won’t cooperate and they fail to produce fruit. 

This means that kava can only be grown from the cuttings of their stems and root bundles. Based on this fact, every island had to essentially start from scratch with their kava crops. As you might expect, every individual island has a different soil and climate. This is how over one hundred varieties of kava came to be.

The individual kava cultivars need different things to result in fruitful cultivation, they also look slightly different, have different psychoactive attributes, and various chemical compositions. 

The Two Main Types of Kava: Tudei & Noble

As mentioned, kava strains have different chemical profiles, each of these profiles is divided by their chemotypes. There are six kavalactones that act as the main active components of kava.

Both tudei and noble kava have different kavalactone ratios and they are analyzed to measure the kavalactone content. Each kavalactone has a number assigned to it that indicates the amount of kavalactones present within the kava.

These are the six main kavalactones:

  1. Kavain
  2. Yangonin
  3. Methysticin
  4. Dihydromethysticin
  5. Dihydrokavain
  6. Desmethoxyyangonin

Tudei Kava

Tudei Kava has been consumed for many, many generations. This type of kava has been traditionally used by natives for ceremonies and medicinal reasons. It’s not usually drunk on a daily basis.

The variations of tudei kava are appealing to growers because they mature more quickly and produce more plants for harvesting. Some of these tudei kava variations have a very high kavalactone content. That sounds great, right? Uhh … not so much. 

These super-high-kavalactone-content kavas also bring unwanted side effects of headaches, extreme tiredness, and nausea. To make things worse, those side effects are not short-term. Those darn things are lengthy … instead of two hours, they last more like two days. 

The reason these side-effects are so daunting is that there is a much higher presence of two particular kavalactones of dihydrokavain and dihydromethysticin. While kavalactones are truly what give kava its happy little magic, when they come in very high concentrations it is just a bit much for our bodies. 


Tudei Kava Cultivars

Palisi from Hawaii

Isa from Papua New Guinea

Koniak from Papua New Guinea

Sulusulu from Vanuatu

Tarvarus from Vanuatu

Gawoboe from Vanuatu

Raro from Vanuatu

Nisginekrai from Vanuatu

Rongrongwul from Vanuatu

Tudei kava is metabolized much slower in the body. Your tudei kava hangover can often last for forty-eight hours. Feeling sick to your stomach with a headache for two days straight is not something most people want to endure.

Noble Kava

Noble kava is the go-to kava for most people because of how the body reacts to it. Unlike tudei kava, noble kava can be used on a daily basis without negative reactions to it, like fatigue, nausea, and headaches.

Kava farmers know that noble kava takes patience, loads of patience, and an abundance of time. These babies grow very slowly. Noble kavas are even more special because their rootstocks are smaller than the tudei kavas. One more reason why noble kava is more expensive. 

Like tudei, noble kava also has multiple chemotypes. To get the most desirable effects from your noble kava, you will want to choose those with high levels of kavain and lower levels of DHM.


Pacific Island Noble Kava Varieties

There are so many great options when it comes to picking the best noble kava. We’ve put together a list of the main varieties for you.

Fiji Kava

In Fiji, they refer to kava as Malogu or Yaqona, and it’s also their national drink. Malogu is the word associated with calming effects on the body. Yaqona is associated with being bitter and earthy in flavor. 


These are the different varieties found on Fiji: damu, dokobana loa, dokobana vula, loa kasa balavu, loa kasa keka, vula kaa balavu, bula kasa leka, matakaro balavu, matakaro leka, yalu, qila balavu, and qila leka.

Samoan Kava

The Samoan natives call their kava ava. These are their kava variations: ava loa, ava la’au, ava Tonga, and ava lea.


Vanuatu Kava

Vanuatu is the archipelago where most people believe kava originated. It is home to over eighty different kava variations.

These are the main varieties of noble kava found on Vanuatu: leay, melmel, melomelo, miela, naga mfwok, pualiu, puariki, sese, silese, urukara, borogoru, borogu, olitao, palarasul, palasa, parliament, pia, poivota, ge gusug, ge vemea, ge wisiwisket, kelai.


Hawaiian Kava

The Hawaiians call their kava awa. Each of their thirteen varieties of kava is suitable for drinking.

These are the varieties of kava found in Hawaii: kumakua, mahakea, mapulehu, hanakapi’ai, hiwa, honokane iki, pana’ewa, papa ‘ele ele, moi, nene, and opihikao

Tongan Kava

The kava varieties cultivated and harvested on Tonga are all suitable for regular consumption during the day. They are known for giving users a happy uplifting and not as heavy as some of the Vanuatu or Fiji kavas. 

The varieties of Tongan kava include: kava kula, kava tea, lekakula, lekakula ‘akau, kava fulufulu, lekahina, and lekahina ‘akau.

All the Other Pacific Island Kava 

Let’s see there are a few more worth mentioning. Solomon Islands are home to melomelo, Papua New Guinea grows kau kupwe, and Micronesia is home to the Rahmwahnger kava. 

It may require further research on your part to check these out for yourself. We know … it’s a huge sacrifice to travel to the islands of the Pacific for your kava research, but just take one for the team.

Let’s move on from the varieties into the different ways kava is consumed.

Various Ways to Consume Kava

Kava Tea: There is some debate on this one. Some people would swear by the relaxing benefits of kava tea. In general, drinking a mug of tea is relaxing. Kava tea is very weak and doesn’t provide too much relaxation. The high temperature of the water required to make tea actually kills almost all of the kavalactones. If the active ingredient of the tea is dead, then there is no way it works. If you’re going to try kava tea, make it noble and drink it warm, never hot.

Kava Capsules: Kava capsules may deliver the desired results from kava eventually. You will need to take kava pills for a few weeks before it builds up in your system enough to notice results. Do your research before spending money on kava capsules.

Kava Breath Strips or Kava Gum: Again, here is another attempt at incorporating kava benefits that don’t deliver the true results of kava. You can chew and chew on your kava gum, but the effects will be so minimal that you probably won’t notice anything at all. The only way to chew on something that works is to chew on the kava root itself.

Kava Tincture:  A kava tincture is an extract of kava that is highly concentrated and placed in small containers. Tinctures come in different strengths. Some tinctures are so concentrated that you only need two or three drops for the desired effect. Some tinctures or extracts may also have herbs added to them to strengthen the effects of relaxation. Decide what type of effects you’re hoping to have before you choose your tincture.

Kava Paste: This is exactly what it sounds like … with a bit of DIY for you. It’s kind of like a tincture. You will mix your kava powder with a tiny amount of water to blend it into your very own kava paste. This form of kava can be found with different amounts of kavalactones present. A little dab’ll do you when it comes to kava paste.

Instant Kava Powder: You have many choices when it comes to instant kava powder. For most of them, you just add to water, give it a stir, and enjoy. When you use a powder, it makes it possible to manage the number of kavalactones in each of your servings. 

Brewed Kava: Brewing kava is similar to brewing tea. It’s placed in a cheesecloth or muslin baggie and put into a bowl of hot water to steep. Next, the kava is kneaded within the bowl of water until the liquid turns a muddy shade of brown. 

In Conclusion

Now you know all of types of kava found throughout the islands of the Pacific. You just need to be sure you choose a noble kava variety.

Ü Relax is the perfect answer to feel happy, less anxious, and totally zen. We’ve chosen the best noble kava just for you. It won’t give you a kava hangover. It won’t sedate you. It will safely and effectively give you trusted results.