Maui Food and Dining

Kava: Skip the Mai Tai for this Ancient Elixir

January 3, 2011, 1:15 PM HST
* Updated January 3, 4:53 PM
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By Erica Garza

Kava Cup

Enjoy a cup of Kava in a coconut cup. Image courtesy of Wow-Wee Maui's Kava.

Derived from the Kava plant, which grows on the slopes of Haleakala, the Kava drink is known mostly for its anti-anxiety effects and a history that dates back thousands of years.

A choice alternative to alcohol-infused classic Hawaiian drinks, cigarettes, or any other mood-altering substance, Kava has been consumed throughout the Pacific as a relaxing social beverage and for religious inspiration.

Nowadays, locals and visitors to Maui alike can indulge in the relaxing benefits of the drink just minutes from the Kahului Airport at Wow-Wee Maui’s Kava Bar and Grill. Serving the authentic drink alongside sushi, sandwiches, the renowned line of Wow-Wee chocolate bars, the quaint bar and grill is Maui’s go-to stop for Kava. The concoction can be purchased in a variety of forms, including a cup of Kava served in a coconut shell, powdered Kava and prepared Kava in a portable plastic bottle you can store in your fridge.

With a pungent taste and a mild numbing affect on the tongue and throat, Kava’s benefits start to sink in usually 20-30 minutes after consuming and last for a relaxing few hours. Traditionally, the beverage is prepared by grinding the roots of the Kava plant, combining with water and then consuming as quickly as possible. In modern times, the Kava beverage is prepared from root powder. Usually one tablespoon of powder is added per cup of water, but sometimes more powder can be added to increase potency. The powder is then soaked in water for about 30 minutes to allow the water to completely soak through the powdered fibers. The Kava powder and water are blended for several minutes then strained into a straining cloth, creating a pulp-free liquid, which can easily be enjoyed. Sometimes coconut water or soymilk is added for more intense flavor.


Visit Wow-Wee Maui’s Kava Bar and Grill to sample this Pacific potion, located at 333 Dairy Rd. in Kahului, Maui. Phone: (808) 871-1414.

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