Kava Strainer Bags: Which One Should You Use?

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Illustration of a Polynesian guy holding kava leaf and a strainer

Most kava is sold as a dry powdered root. To prepare it, you’ll need to mix it around with some water to make a strong “tea.”

If you mix the powder directly with the water, you’re going to end up with a nasty fibrous “mud” that can irritate the throat and cause digestive upset.

A kava strainer bag is used to keep the kava root fibers out of your brew while ensuring the active ingredients have ample opportunity to diffuse into the water.

Choosing a kava strainer bag is simple — don’t overthink it. Any nylon or muslin bag will work perfectly fine.

However, if you’re looking for the best kava strainer bags — opt for something made of nylon with a screen size between 50 and 75 microns. It also helps to find strainer bags with a cinch cord at the top to keep your kava from spilling out while you mix.

What is a Kava Strainer Bag?

Kava strainer bags are used to make kava with the traditional preparation method.

They’re designed to act as a filter for the kava, sort of like a teabag. It keeps the unwanted kava fibers out of the water without impeding the kavalactones from diffusing into the water.

Unlike normal tea, kava needs to be constantly agitated in water to get the active ingredients to separate. Kavalactones are not water-soluble, so it takes much more work to get them to diffuse into the water.

Therefore, kava strainer bags must be made of a tough material to withstand the constant agitation and squeezing.

Traditionally, kava strainers were made of coconut husks, reed grasses, sedges, and tree ferns. It worked, but there would often be bits of kava, bark, and dirt in the final product. Modern kava strainer bags work substantially better.

 

Best Kava Strainer Bags

Just about anything can be used as a strainer for kava — the cheapest options are nut milk bags, pantyhose, cotton bags, or cheesecloth.

The best kava strainer bags are made of nylon with a screen size between 50 and 75 microns.

Most kava vendors sell strainer bags for a few extra bucks, or you can pick one up on Amazon for cheap.

The best “premium” strainer bags are almost always made of nylon because of how strong and durable it is and come in various sizes depending on the quantity of kava you intend to make per session.

Here are some of the best kava strainers available:

1. Kavafied Professional Kava Strainer Bag

This is the best strainer overall. It has a screen size of 75 microns and a really nice wide mouth top to make filling and emptying the bag as easy as possible.

This strainer bag is quite large. It works best for making large batches of kava but can still be used for smaller single-serving sizes. The size just means it’s going to be a little clunky to use when there’s only a small serving of kava inside.

Kavafied also makes a traditional strainer bag that is much smaller, has a cinch-cord top, and 100-micron screen size.

View Kavafied Strainer Bag ($20)

2. Kava Society New Zealand Strainer Bag

Kava Society NZ is known for their attention to detail. Everything this brand carries has been carefully vetted before being listed — including products as simple as a strainer bag.

These bags are made from a durable nylon material with a screen size somewhere between 50 and 75 (we don’t know for sure, but it looks the same as some of the other bags we’ve bought over the years within that range).

View Kava Society Strainer Bags ($7.50 NZD)

3. Haosens Fine Mesh Strainer

This strainer is not sold by kava vendors but does the job perfectly well and at a really good price.

Each pack comes with five nylon bags, each with a cinch cord at the top to close it off once you’ve filled it with kava powder. You also get a nice little handheld strainer which I find is perfect for pouring the final brew through one last time before I drink it. This removes any bits of kava that may have gotten into the water.

View Haosens Fine Mesh Strainer ($12)

4. Root of Happiness Kava Strainer Bag

Root of Happiness (ROH) is one of my favorite brands. They carry a ton of really rare and unique kava cultivars you’re unlikely to find elsewhere.

Like any reputable vendor, ROH also sells its own kava strainer bags.

These bags are made of nylon and have a medium screen size.

These bags work perfectly fine and are definitely worth the money. If you’re just starting out with kava and decided to go with ROH for your first order — pick yourself up some of these bags to prepare your kava.

The only complaint is that these bags feel a little too light. It’s not a bag I use often, but it feels like the nylon is going to tear eventually because of how thin it is. The drawstring is also made of a cheap, thin cotton material which I’m pretty sure is going to break one of these days.

View Root of Happiness Strainer Bag ($7)

5. Kalm With Kava Synthetic Strainer Bags

Kalm With Kava sells two types of kava strainer bags — an organic muslin (cloth) bag and a synthetic version.

Both work perfectly fine, but the synthetic bag works just a little bit better and seems to last longer. The cloth bags clog up really easily, and I feel like they filter a little too much out of the final brew.

These bags are super cheap — you can get a pack of three for just eight bucks.

The reason these strainer bags are lower down on the list is that they’re a little too small for making kava in groups. Even when making kava for just one person, I prefer a slightly larger bag as it makes filling the bag with powder and mashing it around a little easier.

View Kalm With Kava Strainer Bags ($2–$12)

Where to Buy Kava Strainer Bags

The best place to buy a strainer is from a kava vendor — purely for the sake of simplicity. If you’re buying some kava, you might as well throw in a strainer bag along with it for a few extra bucks.

This way, you know you’re getting a strainer that’s been tried and tested by real kava users.

With that said, you don’t need to buy a strainer from a kava vendor for it to work perfectly well for kava. You can also buy strainer bags from Amazon. Look for strainer bags marketed towards making nut milk — these are usually made of a durable nylon and have the ideal screen size of 50 to 75 microns or so.

How Much Does a Strainer Bag Cost?

A kava strainer bag should cost less than $20. Anything more than this is overpriced. You’re literally buying a nylon or cotton screen with a drawstring — it’s not that complicated.

Companies like Wakacon are selling their strainer bags for as much as $35, which is totally unreasonable.

The most expensive kava strainer bag we can justify is the Kavafied Professional Strainer Bag. It’s clearly a custom strainer bag with a nice round opening at the top and a decent size for making large batches of kava. This one is expensive, but it’s worth the money for people making kava for three or more people regularly.

Anybody else should stick to the cheap $5–$10 kava strainer bags sold on most vendor sites — these are perfectly sufficient.

DIY Kava Strainer Bags

If you’re hoping to make some kava right now and don’t have a strainer, don’t worry, plenty of household items can be used to make a temporary strainer bag in a pinch.

Here are a few ideas you can use:

  • An old T-shirt
  • A pantyhose
  • Cheesecloth
  • Tea strainer with a fine mesh screen
  • Cloth coffee filters (paper filters are too fine to work properly)
  • Any nylon screen bags (nut milk bags or reusable fruit bags)

How to Use a Kava Strainer Bag

There are two ways you can use a kava strainer bag, depending on which preparation method you’re using. Both are very simple:

For Traditional Kava Preparation

  1. Fill the bag with kava (the average dose is 10 grams of kava per person)
  2. Prepare some warm or hot water (not boiling) — add about 20 times as much water as powder (for 10 grams, add 200 mL of water)
  3. Pour the water through the strainer bag into a large bowl
  4. Continually mix the strainer bag into the water and squeeze it out — this should take about 10 minutes
  5. Pull out the strainer and give it a good squeeze to get all the water into the bowl — set it aside to make another batch later

Related: What is a traditional kava bowl (tanoa)?

For The Kava Blender Method

  1. Add your kava powder and water to a blender
  2. Leave the blender on the lowest setting for about 10 minutes
  3. Turn the blender off and pour the mixture through the strainer bag into a bowl
  4. Squeeze the strainer bag to remove every last drop of kava and set it aside to reuse later

How to Care For a Kava Strainer Bag

Caring for your strainer bag isn’t rocket science. Give it a rinse when you’re done using it, and never let it sit out with kava still inside for more than 12 hours, or it will start to smell.

You can wash kava strainer bags by hand with warm soapy water or throw them in the wash with the rest of your clothes. Just be careful not to throw it in with white clothes, or it could stain them a light yellow color.

If you’re using nylon bags, it’s best to avoid throwing them in the drier.

How to Fix a Clogged Kava Strainer

The more you use your strainer, the more kava resin will start to build up on the sides. This gives it a yellowish color. There’s nothing to worry about with this discoloration, but eventually, the resin will become so thick it can prevent the bag from straining properly.

If you find you need to work extra hard to squeeze the kava from your strainer, you can soak it in some boiling water or alcohol for a few minutes. This will dissolve the kava resin, which can then be rinsed off with normal tap water.

Finish it off by giving it a rinse with warm soapy water and leave it out to hang dry.

Alternative to Kava Strainer Bags: The AluBall

If you’re using kava powder that isn’t micronized or instant, you will need some form of a strainer. Tea filters can work, but the screen isn’t usually fine enough to filter out all the unwanted fibers and plant structures.

Even if you’re using the kava blender method, you’ll still need to pour the mixture through a sieve of some sort to separate the fibrous roots.

The only real alternative to using a kava strainer bag is to use an AluBall instead.

This device looks like a protein powder shaker bottle and functions the same way as well.

The bottle contains a small ball (the AluBall), which has a 75-micron screen built-in. Fill the ball with kava, add water to the fill line, and shake it up for a few minutes.

Once it’s ready, you just need to pour your kava from the bottle directly into your cups.

Pros & Cons of the AluBall:

Pros Cons
  • Very portable
  • Easy to use
  • No need to get your hands dirty making kava
  • Only makes enough kava for one or two servings

Key Takeaways: Do I Need a Kava Strainer Bag?

Kava strainer bags are used to filter out the fibrous roots of your kava when preparing it with the traditional method or blender method.

The only time you don’t need a strainer is if you’re using an AluBall or freeze-dried instant kava. You should still use a strainer for micronized kava.

Choosing a strainer is very simple — don’t overthink it. If you’re ordering kava powder from a vendor, you can add a strainer bag or two directly from the website — most of them are perfectly sufficient.

If you’re purely looking to order a bag and want the best one available — my top pick is the Kavafied Professional Kava bag.

If you’re on a budget or don’t want to wait for something to be delivered, you can use an old t-shirt, pantyhose, cheesecloth, or any muslin bag just fine.

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