How to Prepare Kava — 3 Methods (Traditional | Blender | AluBall)

illustration of kava drinks

When it comes to brewing kava, there are no right or wrong techniques. There are several different brewing methods you can use to brew kava effectively:

  1. Traditional brewing methods
  2. The blender method
  3. The shaker bottle method
  4. Kava steep tea
  5. And much more

No matter how you brew kava, the results are going to be very similar. The difference between these methods is the time it takes to prepare the brew, the batch size, and the level of convenience when mixing your kava.

This essentially boils down to personal preference, so we highly recommend trying a few different preparation methods before settling on one.

Some people find enjoyment from the ritual traditional preparation methods — while others would rather use shaker bottles or blenders for speed and convenience.

In this guide, we’ll cover how to prepare kava with the three most common methods — the traditional method, the shaker bottle method, and the blender method. We’ll go over the equipment you need to make kava with each of these methods, offer advice on how much kava powder and water to use, and provide step-by-step instructions for preparing kava effectively.

Let’s get started.

Method 1: Traditional Kava Preparation

The preparation of kava is just as important as its consumption to many of the indigenous Pacific island cultures where kava grows. The ritual involved with preparing the kava adds to its value as a medicine and for ceremony.

If you’re using kava for stress reduction, sleep promotion, or spiritual exploration, we highly recommend you try making kava the traditional way. The extra 10 or 15 minutes it takes to prepare the kava in this way serves to put you in a present mindset.

This traditional method is as close to the real process used by the Pacific islanders as possible, with one small difference. Instead of masticating kava root (chewing it up and spitting it out), we’ll use a pre-powdered kava root. The results are the same as chewing the kava and is much more sanitary — chewing doesn’t actually offer any additional benefits to the brew.

With that aside, let’s explore the process of preparing kava the traditional way!

What You’ll Need:

  • A strainer bag (muslin bag)
  • High-grade ground kava root
  • Warm water
  • Medium to large bowl to mix kava in
  • Small cups to drink from
  • A small kitchen scale

Step 1: Measure the Kava Root Dose

The first step is to measure out the dose of kava. The dose of kava can vary from one person to the next, but a standard dose is about 10 grams of powdered kava per person. You may want to double this amount, so you can have some extra kava tea ready for use a few hours later.

Weighing the kava on a scale is the most by far the most accurate way to measure kava — but you can also measure your kava in flat tablespoons if you prefer. 10 grams is equivalent to roughly 3 or 4 flat tablespoons of kava — but this will depend on how finely the kava powder is ground. For example, micronized kava is closer to about 2 tablespoons per 10-gram dose.

Step 2: Fill The Strainer Bag

Once you’ve measured out the kava, put it in your strainer bag.

You have a few options here for a strainer.

The best option is to use a muslin strainer bag because you can close the bag and tie it off to avoid spilling the powder as you knead the kava into the water.

If you don’t have a muslin bag, you can also use cheesecloth or even an old (washed) t-shirt. You just have to be careful that the cloth doesn’t open up and spill all your kava powder into the bowl as you’re mixing in step four.

Place the strainer in the bowl when you’re finished.

Step 3: Add the Water

The next step is to add the water, which should be warm or mildly hot (tap-hot is best).

Don’t add boiling water here because you won’t be able to mix it all together with your hands if it’s too hot to touch. Traditionally, room temperature water is used.

You want to add roughly 20 times as much water in milliliters as kava in grams.

So our standard 10 g dose of kava powder would require roughly 200 mL of water. You can always add more or less water depending on your personal preferences. The less water you use, the stronger the brew will be. If you want your kava to have a milder effect profile, feel free to use more water.

Pour the water over the muslin bag full of kava powder, and let it sit for about 5 minutes to absorb as much of the water as possible.

Step 4: Mix, Mix, Mix

After letting the kava sit in the water for a few minutes, you may notice the water is starting to develop a murky appearance already. This is a good sign the kavalactones are diffusing into the water.

To make the kava brew strong, you’ll need to spend a few minutes mixing.

Knead the kava-filled muslin bag or strainer into the water. Squeeze it with your hands and move the bag around the bowl. You want to work the kava powder around in the water as much as possible.

This process should go on for 5 – 10 minutes to get the most out of the powder.

You’ll notice that as you do this, the water will become murkier and will develop a light brown color resembling muddy water.

Step 5: Time To Drink!

Once you’ve finished kneading and mixing the kava into the water for about 10 minutes, your kava is ready to drink.

You can simply remove the strainer bag and try to squeeze as much liquid out of the bag as possible before setting it aside. Don’t throw this away — you can get about 2 or 3 more washes of lower-strength kava out of this if you want. Many people will throw this strainer bag in the freezer to use again another day.

With the strainer bag removed, you’re left with a bowl of fresh kava tea ready for drinking. You can fill up your cup right away and start drinking.

Traditionally, you would take your small cup and scoop the kava brew out from the bowl. When drinking with friends, always fill their cups up before your own.

Some people don’t like the taste of kava and find that icing the kava tea helps it go down easier. You can place the bowl in the fridge for an hour, or add the kava to a cup of ice to give it a smoother flavor.

You may also choose to add some form of sweetener like honey or agave to the blend. Although this isn’t traditionally the way kava is consumed, there’s no right or wrong way to do this. You should do whatever works best for you.

Method 2: Shaker Bottle Kava Tea

In the Western world, many people don’t want to spend the time mixing and kneading kava into a tea — so companies have developed techniques to make the process quicker and more convenient.

One of the easiest ways to make kava, especially while on the go, is to use something like the AluBall Kava Maker.

This device is basically a shaker bottle (like you would use to mix protein powders at the gym), with a strainer ball to put the kava into.

All you need to do is load the kava into the strainer ball, add water, and shake vigorously for a few minutes. The process is virtually identical to making protein shakes with a shaker bottle.

What You’ll Need:

  • Kava shaker cup (Such as the AluBall Kava Maker)
  • High-grade ground kava root
  • Warm water

Step 1: Measure the Kava

Just like the traditional method, you need to start by measuring your dose of kava. We prefer to measure the kava in grams, but you can also use tablespoons.

The usual dose of kava is around 10 grams, but some prefer smaller doses of around 5 grams or larger doses of 15 grams.

You may be limited in the amount of kava you can use by the size of the shaker ball provided with the kava maker.

Step 2: Fill the Shaker Ball

Once you’ve measured out your dose, you can fill the shaker ball with the kava powder.

As you use the shaker over time, you’ll learn exactly how much kava to add to the ball, and may not need to measure the dose every single time.

Once the kava powder is in the strainer ball, seal it up and add it to the shaker bottle.

Step 3: Add the Water

The next step is to add water. As mentioned above, you usually want to add about 20 times as much water in milliliters as you used in grams.

With most shakers, there will be a fill line marked on the bottle to make things as simple as possible. We recommend starting with this recommended amount.

If you find you want the kava to have a stronger taste, you can add less water.

Step 4: Shake!

Seal the shaker and give it a shake! You should shake the bottle around for as long as possible to get as much of the active kavalactones from the powder and into the water.

We recommend you shake for 5 or 10 minutes to get the best results.

When you’re done you’ll notice the water has a light brown, muddy appearance. It’s now ready for drinking!

Step 5: Drink Up

Once you’re done shaking, your kava is ready to drink. You don’t need to remove the strainer ball, you can just begin drinking right away.

Some people prefer to place the strainer bottle in the fridge to cool for a smoother flavor, but this is completely optional.

If you don’t drink all the kava right away, and let the shaker sit for a while, make sure you give it another shake before taking a sip to get the kava settled on the bottom to redissolve into the mix.

Method 3: The Blender Method

Another super simple way to prepare kava is to use a blender. This is the fastest way to make a strong kava brew in a short amount of time.

What You’ll Need:

  • A blender
  • High-grade ground kava root
  • Warm water
  • Some cups
  • A small kitchen scale

Step 1: Measure The Dose of Kava Powder

Just like any other method of preparation, you start by measuring the dose.

Depending on the size of your blender, it may be best to make larger batches of kava, as small batches in a large blender tend to waste powder from it inevitably sticking to the sides of the container. This method is best if preparing a larger batch of kava to drink over the next 1 – 3 days, or if preparing kava for a group of people.

Smaller blenders like the magic bullet are better for single-serving portions.

The usual dose is about 10 grams of kava (3 – 4 tablespoons) per person. If you’re preparing kava for 4 people, you should use about 40 grams of kava.

Once you’ve measured the kava out with a scale, or measuring spoon, add the powder straight into the blender.

Step 2: Add the Water

Next, you’ll want to add the water. It’s best to use room temperature water, or slightly hot water from the tap. Don’t use boiling water to make your kava.

For 10 grams of kava, you’ll want to add about 200 mL of water. This works out to about 20x as much water in mL as kava in grams. So for a 4 person (40 gram) kava brew, you should use about 800 – 1000 mL (1 liter) of water.

Add the water directly to the blender.

Step 3: Blend

Now all you have to do is blend everything together for a minute or two.

This is going to serve the same purpose as kneading the kava in the traditional method or shaking the kava using the shaker bottle method. Doing so with a blender is going to be much more efficient and will usually yield a stronger brew than the other two methods mentioned above.

Step 4: Strain

After blending, you need to remove the kava root fibers before you drink.

The easiest way to do this is to pour the blended mixture through a filter of some kind — usually a muslin cloth or cheesecloth.

Some sources suggest using coffee filters, but we advise you avoid this as it can filter a lot of the active kavalactones as well — which would dramatically lower the potency of the mix and defeat the purpose of making kava tea in the first place.

Step 5: Drink!

Once you’ve strained your kava, it’s time to drink!

If you made a large batch, you can store the remaining liquid in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Using the blender method is a good way to make large batches of kava for you to drink over the course of a couple of days as needed.

Final Thoughts: Making Kava Drinks and Teas

There’s no right way to make kava tea. You can prepare the beverage in whatever way works best for you. Some people prefer the ceremony involved with making kava the traditional way, while others like the efficiency of a blender, or the convenience of a shaker bottle.

Honestly, all methods work just fine, and the end result is about the same.

We recommend you spend some time trying all preparation methods to see what works best for you.

Feel free to play around with the ratio of kava powder to water as well. It all comes down to personal preference for the consistency of the final brew, which is ultimately controlled by the amount of water you use.

The ideal dose can vary significantly from one person to another. Some people prefer a stronger dose of around 15 grams of kava powder per session, while others prefer mild effects from 5 g doses. Start with a low dose if you’ve never used kava before, and build up gradually until you find one that works best for you.

Happy kava drinking!