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Looking For The Best Kava? We Did The Research—Here Are 9 We Love

If you’re looking for a quick recommendation, here’s what to buy:

The Best Kava: Our Recommendations At A Glance

DrinkRoot Kava

Easy To Use, Effective, And Safe

Drink Root Instant Connoisseur Blend

Drinkroot is a brewed kava juice, filtered, and dehydrated to an extremely low moisture content. This creates a very stable high kavalactone concentration of kava juice, and is super easy to use. Just add water.

Editor’s note 5/24/22: This product is currently sold out. We will update this review as soon as it becomes available. In the meantime, we recommend purchasing it in packet form below.

Perfect For On The Go

Drink Root Instant Connoisseur Blend Packets

Need an option that can be used on the go? Try Drink Root’s instant kava packets of their Instant Connoisseur Blend!

Our Favorite Kava Pill

Double Wood Supplements Kava Kava Extract

Ideal for anxiety and relaxation without sedation, in a controlled dose.

Kona Kava Farm Instant 9% Kavalactone Powder Mix

Best Tasting Instant Kava

Kona Kava Farm Instant 9% Kavalactone Powder Mix

Kona Kava offers cocoa and banana-vanilla flavors for its kava, so you can enjoy a premium quality kava drink with high potency that actually tastes good.

Editor’s note 5/27/22: This product is currently sold out. We will update this review as soon as it becomes available.

Our Favorite Kava Tablets

Nootropics Depot Noble Kava Tablets

High bioavailability with a minimum 10% kavalactones.

If You Want A Heavy, Creamy Kava

Drink Root Instant Barava

This instant kava is incredibly smooth and is sourced from the Solomon Islands. It’s the perfect blend for an evening with friends.

best kava extract powder

Highly Potent Kava Extract Powder

Samsara Herbs Natural Kava Extract Powder

Each serving provides 32g of kava extract powder that’s standardized to 30% kavalactones.

Editor’s note 5/27/22: This product is currently sold out. We will update this review as soon as it becomes available.

best kava extract supplement

Great Combo For Relaxation

NOW Supplements Kava Herbal Relaxation Blend

Each capsule contains 75 mg of kavalactones along with 100 mg organic eleuthero root to promote relaxation without sedation.

FijiKava Instant Extract Powder

Best Value Instant Kava

FijiKava Instant Extract Powder

FijiKava is available in multiple sizes, from 1.76 oz packs to 17.60 oz pouches, so you can get a great deal on this kava product.

Since there are several different kava strains, kava varieties, and kava ‘formats’, searching for the best kava to buy can be confusing and downright frustrating. Many kava products require you to learn how to properly make tea out of ground kava root and buy a special strainer and bowl for its preparation. However, most people looking to buy kava just want an unadulterated, authentic product that is easy to use and provides an enjoyable buzz—without the mess.

Following extensive research, we’ve determined that the best kava is Drink Root’s micronized kava. It doesn’t use any harsh chemicals in extraction, it’s of the noble variety (provides a pleasant high), and it’s the most convenient format by a mile. However, there are several other kava products worth considering in your search—you may prefer capsules over a drink, for example. More on those below.

In this article, we’ll explain what kava is, why you should consider drinking it instead of a good old-fashioned margarita, and how to pick the best kava products and get the most possible enjoyment out of them. This review includes our picks for the best instant kava, best micronized kava, best kava powder, best kava supplement, and more.

What Is Kava?

Kava–scientific name piper methysticum, meaning “intoxicating pepper”–is an herb native to the Pacific islands. The word kava comes from a Tongan word meaning bitter; kava is also known by other names including ‘ava, ‘awa, kava kava, or yaqona.

Kava is known for its sedating effects, as well as euphoric and analgesic properties. Traditionally in many Pacific island cultures, kava is consumed as a beverage made from the ground root of the kava plant, or a mixture of the root and bark. Sometimes kava is also chewed. 

Traditionally, in many of these cultures, kava occupies a similar role to alcohol in most societies–as the “social beverage” that people drink to loosen up and socialize, as well as for ceremonial uses such as toasting or celebration. It is also used on some islands for shamanistic purposes, or as a component in traditional medicine. Australian aboriginals also mix it with alcohol.

The active ingredient in kava is a class of chemicals called kavalactones. Raw kava root contains 3-20% kavalactones by weight, depending on the varietal. However, kava extracts (what consumers usually buy) are more concentrated and contain 30-70% kavalactones.

How To Choose A Good Kava Product And Find Reliable Kava Vendors

The effective dose of kavalactones ranges from 70-250 mg, with the higher end of that range usually being reserved for sleep induction. Lower doses can be taken several times a day.  

The first thing to look for in a kava product is the total amount of kavalactones it contains. You’ll want 70-150 mg per dose for socializing or anxiolytic purposes, or 200-250 for sedation and sleep improvement. Some supplements will list kavalactones in mg; others will list them as a percentage by weight, and you’ll have to do the math to figure out the number of milligrams per serving.  

If the kavalactone content isn’t listed, you probably shouldn’t buy a product. If you do though, for safety’s sake you need to assume a high kavalactone content–20% for whole root or 70% for an extract–even though the opposite is probably the case.  

Second, you’ll want to look at which variety of kava is used. There are two main strains of kava–noble and tudei.  Each strain has a different mix of kavalactones. Noble kava is shorter-lasting, has fewer side effects, and tends to be mildly euphoric and anxiolytic and thus ideal for socializing. Tudei kava is more sedating, longer-lasting, and has harsher side effects including nausea and hangovers.  

Noble kava has a safer toxicity profile, both chronic and acute, and it’s the variety that is used in almost all human studies. That in turn makes it safer because it’s better studied. We recommend always choosing noble over tudei kava.  

Experienced kava users will often describe kava as “heady, heavy or balanced.”  Heady kava causes more energetic and euphoric feelings, while heavy kava causes more sedation, with balanced being a mix of both. For the most part, this corresponds to variety; noble kava tends to be heady, tudei will feel heavy, and a blend will probably feel heavy or balanced. Of course, a higher dosage will also feel more “heavy.”  

Again, given the toxicity of tudei kava, we still recommend higher-dosed noble kava over lower-dosed tudei kava for sleep induction.  

Speaking of toxins, look for powders or extracts that are made or extracted with water, rather than solvents such as ethanol. Any solvent used should be removed afterward, of course, but traces can remain. In small amounts, they’re not so much a real danger, but will contribute to hangovers.   

Finally, look for kava taken specifically from the root of the kava plant, rather than the whole plant. The root is where most of the kavalactones are; the bark and leaves don’t add much and will either dilute the kava or possibly add pesticides or other chemicals you just don’t want.

Our Recommendations For The 9 Best Kava Kava Products Including Traditional Kava Reviews And Kava Root Reviews


best instant kava powder

Our recommendation

Drink Root Instant Connoisseur Blend

Straightforward, easy-to-take, and great ingredients

Like many supplements, the kava world is full of sketchy brands with incomplete and unhelpful labeling, dubiously-sourced product, and harsh extraction methods. As far as we can tell, though, Drink Root is NONE of these. In fact, Drink Root is quite the opposite.

Their kava is small-batch and single-origin, and they’ll email you the lab results of the current batch if you email them. Drink Root’s kava is extracted with water, unlike many kava supplements which are extracted with chemical solvents such as ethanol. It’s also just super easy to take—just mix it in water.

That’s more than you can say about a lot of kava products, which require you to make a tea out of the powder with a special strainer. If you’re just getting into kava and want a recommendation, Drink Root’s kava is an excellent, no-nonsense buy to dip your toes in.

Key features:

  • Certified organic, and made with water–no solvents
  • Pre-brewed and pre-strained
  • 50 grams at 6.7-10% kavalactones, or about 25-50 doses for social usage
  • “Heady” blend from noble kava
  • Single-origin from a small farm on Vanuatu
  • Made from whole ground root, not an extract
  • Lab-tested

Editor’s note 5/24/22: This product is currently sold out. We will update this review as soon as it becomes available. In the meantime, we recommend purchasing this product in packet form below.

Features

  • The only true dehydrated kava juice brand
  • Good kavalactone content
  • Incredible taste with no bark or roots

But be aware of…

  • Super popular and sells out quickly
  • More expensive than other brands
  • Hard to find consumer reviews

Best Dehydrated Instant Kava Packets

Drink Root Instant Connoisseur Blend

Need an option that can be used on the go? Try Drink Root’s instant kava packets of their Instant Connoisseur Blend!

You can purchase this product in 15, 30, or 60 packets and each packet provides 1 leveled tsp of kava.

Features

  • The only true dehydrated kava juice brand
  • High kavalactone content
  • Most convenient form of instant kava yet

But be aware of…

  • Higher serving size than most products
  • More expensive than other brands
  • Hard to find consumer reviews

Best Kava Pills

Double Wood Supplements Kava Kava Extract

Don’t like the taste of kava? Double Wood’s Kava Kava Root Extract supplement provides the classic health benefits of Kava tea in a convenient capsule form.

Each serving of 2 capsules provides 1,000 mg of kava kava extract (root) that’s standardized to 3-5% total kavalactones, and there are 60 total servings per bottle.

Features

  • Great for beginners
  • Vegan-friendly
  • Affordable

But be aware of…

  • Lower kavalactone % than powder
  • Not as easy to dose
  • Unknown origin and blend

Kona Kava Farm Instant 9% Kavalactone Powder Mix

Best Tasting Instant Kava

Kona Kava Farm Instant 9% Kavalactone Powder Mix

You definitely don’t drink kava for taste, but Kona Kava produces the best-tasting micronized instant kava. With the cocoa or banana-vanilla flavor, you can enjoy a premium quality kava drink with high potency.

Kona Kava regularly tests their kava products and manufactures them in an FDA-compliant GMP facility. On average, this instant kava contains 95 mg of kavalactones per serving, so you can comfortably drink two cups per day.

Editor’s note 5/27/22: This product is currently sold out. We will update this review as soon as it becomes available.

Features

  • One of the only flavored kavas available
  • Good kavalactone concentration
  • Sweetened with stevia

But be aware of…

  • Some consumers say taste is overpowering
  • Very popular brand that sells out often
  • Doesn’t blend as well as other brands

Best Kava Tablets

Nootropics Depot Noble Kava Tablets

Nootropics Depot offers kava in quantities of 30 or 90 tablets. These tablets are highly bioavailable and have a concentration of 10% or more kavalactones.

Each tablet provides 1,000 mg of noble kava extract.

Features

  • High kavalactone %
  • Uses Noble kava
  • Affordable

But be aware of…

  • Not ideal for beginners
  • Not as easy to dose
  • Unknown origin

Kava With A Heavy, Creamy Taste

Drink Root Instant Barava

This instant kava blend is known for its body-numbing effects and leaves a spongy/creamy aftertaste. It creates a warming feeling and contains a kavalactone concentration of 6.8%.

Features

  • The only true dehydrated kava juice brand
  • Good kavalactone content
  • Incredible taste with no bark or roots

But be aware of…

  • Slightly lower kavalactone % than other blends
  • More expensive than other brands
  • Hard to find consumer reviews

best kava extract powder

Highly Potent Kava Extract Powder

Samsara Herbs Natural Kava Extract Powder

This appears to be one of the strongest kava extract powders available online today. This bag contains 100 servings of kava (96 mg per serving) and has a kavalactone concentration of 30%.

It’s an incredible value kava supplement that mixes well with the beverage of your choice.

Editor’s note 5/27/22: This product is currently sold out. We will update this review as soon as it becomes available.

Features

  • High kavalactone %
  • Easy to mix
  • Affordable

But be aware of…

  • Not ideal for beginners
  • Lacks testing data
  • Unknown origin

best kava extract supplement

Great value brand we trust

NOW Supplements Kava Herbal Relaxation Blend

NOW Supplements is well known for their super affordable, high-quality products. They just so happen to make a kava supplement in capsule form that comes paired with eleuthero.

Each capsule contains 75 mg of kavalactones and 100 mg of organic eleuthero root which is an adaptogenic herb. This ingredient combination makes this product ideal for relieving anxiety and promoting relaxation without sedation.

This product is lab-tested and GMP-certified.

Features

  • Great for relaxation
  • Ideal for beginners
  • Affordable

But be aware of…

  • Not the best for experienced users
  • Not for those who only want kava
  • Unknown origin

FijiKava Instant Extract Powder

Best Value Instant Kava

FijiKava Instant Extract Powder

FijiKava offers instant kava root powder made with noble kava strain. The product is available in multiple sizes, from 1.76 oz packs to 17.60 oz pouches, so you can get a great deal on this kava product.

FijiKava manufactures its products in a HACCP-certified factory with GMP standards. Although the company states that this instant kava is 100% water extracted, it dissolves a little harder than the other products on our list.

Features

  • Multiple quantities available
  • Great value
  • High standards for testing

But be aware of…

  • Does not provide kavalactone %
  • Doesn’t dissolve very well
  • Some consumers don’t like the taste

FAQs About Kava

What Are The Effects Of Kava?

Kava’s known effects fall into three main categories: sedative, euphoric, and analgesic. 

Multiple studies, not to mention widespread anecdotal experience, leave no doubt that kava has sedative and anxiolytic properties.  These effects are moderately powerful–most people will find them to be quite noticeable, and kava is sedating enough that it needs to be avoided before driving or operating heavy machinery, much the same as alcohol.

Kava also moderately elevates mood and subjective well-being. This effect can be as powerful as the anxiolytic effect, but is somewhat less consistent. It appears to be secondary to the anxiolytic effect, meaning it makes you feel happier via making you feel less anxious. Thus, the more anxious you are, the more kava is likely to elevate your mood.

Analgesic effects are a bit more complicated. The topical analgesic effects of kava are not in doubt–anyone who has ever tried it can attest that it makes your mouth go numb.  

Systemic analgesic effects–as in, whether ingesting kava will make pinching your arm hurt less–are a different story. So far, they haven’t been studies in humans. In rats and mice, kava does appear to exert some systemic analgesic effect, but the mechanism of action is unclear. There’s no particular reason just yet to recommend kava for this purpose. 

There is also early evidence that kava decreases stress, blood pressure and symptoms of depression, as well as improving sleep quality. All of these effects so far appear to be minor and secondary to kava’s anti-anxiety properties.

How Long Does It Take Kava To Kick In, And How Long Does Kava Last?

The duration and half-life of kava is still somewhat unclear. One study found that effects typically peaked 1-2 hours after ingestion, with a distribution half-life of 50 minutes and an elimination half-life of 9 hours. Anecdotally, people usually feel the euphoric and anxiolytic effects of kava for 2-3 hours, with higher doses causing a sedation effect that can last longer.  

Mixing kava with alcohol causes a synergistic drunkenness effect. The danger of liver damage from kava is minimal, but mixing with alcohol raises the toxicity. Kava can also cause hangovers. All of this depends on the variety–more on that shortly.   

Kava should not be mixed with prescription anxiolytic or antidepressant drugs without consulting a doctor first.   

What Is The Best Way To Take Kava?

Kava is sold either in capsules or as a powder. Pills, of course, are straightforward enough. Powdered kava on the other hand can be taken a few different ways.

First, you can mix it with water or tea and drink it, powder and all. This will be the most potent method of consumption.  

Second, you can strain the kava. This will give you a less potent beverage, but a better-tasting one with no powder floating in it.  

Third, you can blend kava with a smoothie. This will cause you to ingest as much kavalactones as option one, but the effect will be a bit muted and spread out over a longer period of time, as the smoothie will cause the kava to be absorbed more slowly.

Fourth, there are some instant kava extracts that are meant to be mixed into beverages and dissolve completely, just like instant coffee. This won’t give you the authentic experience, but it is convenient.    

Just like alcohol, kava will hit you harder if you ingest it on an empty stomach. If using it to socialize, you may want to have a little bit on an empty stomach, followed by some food before consuming more kava. That way the first dose will hit you faster, then the kava you drink after the food will absorb more slowly, making it easier to stay in the “sweet spot” of relaxed but not sleepy.

What does Kava taste like? It’s not particularly good, so you may also want to chase it with something flavorful. Tea and spicy food are often used for this purpose; since kava numbs the mouth and tongue, it increases one’s ability to tolerate spicy flavors. Mixing kava with some caffeine may also be ideal from a socialization standpoint, though obviously it’s counterproductive if you want to sleep within the next few hours.

Regardless, kava generally kicks in within 30-60 minutes, with the effects being felt for 2-3 hours. You can therefore re-dose every 3 hours or so, and even if it doesn’t feel like it’s working, you should wait an hour before re-dosing to avoid overdosing. 

The optimal dosage will vary depending on your body weight, tolerance and anxiety levels. Generally, it’s about 70-150 mg for socializing or anxiolytic purposes, or 150-250 mg for sleep. Doses in the 200+ mg range have been used for anxiolytic purposes, but only in people suffering from clinical anxiety disorders; this dosage will generally be excessive for most people.  

Drowsiness or impaired driving are usually only seen with doses over 180 mg, though that too will depend on body weight and maybe also what variety is used.    

What Is The Best Kava Brand?

It can be quite difficult to narrow down your options when it comes to selecting the right kava product as there are several brands that check off the boxes mentioned above in respect to key features. However, there’s one brand that stands out when it comes to having the most authentic kava possible – Drink Root Kava.

Drink Root Kava is by far our favorite pick among all kava vendors for many reasons, but the most important is that it’s not actually micronized kava, rather, it’s dehydrated kava juice. Basically, the company has filtered and then dehydrated brewed kava juice which creates a very stable high kavalactone concentration of kava juice that’s free of kava root and does not contain flavokavains, which are cytotoxic chalcones that are naturally found in kava root, that are often detected in high levels in kava concentrates that are used in standard pills, tinctures, and pastes. Thus, Drink Root Kava offers the safest form of kava and is actually the first company in the US to make kava in this form. 

Another reason we prefer Drink Root Kava over other brands is that its products are sourced from an organic farm in Vanuatu and each batch of roots undergoes strict QC analysis to ensure premium kavalactone characteristics and content. Its Instant Connoisseur blend contains 10.2% kavalactones and is a dihydrokavain (DHK) heavy blend, making it ideal for those who are seeking both its euphoric and body sedation effects.


Want to read more about kava and its uses? Check out the following articles:


Editor’s note: we are regularly updating this review. If you see any problems, weird interpretations of the data, or just want to say hi, please reach out to hello@the-unwinder.com.

About the author

John Fawkes is the Managing Editor of The Unwinder. John is an NSCA-certified personal trainer and Precision Nutrition-certified nutritional counselor who has been featured on over two dozen websites and podcasts. He works with clients in Los Angeles and online, and can be reached on Instagram and Twitter.

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