Maui Food and Dining

Drink Me: Kava at Maui Wow-Wee

October 4, 2011, 4:36 PM HST
* Updated October 4, 5:02 PM
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By Kristin Hashimoto

'Awa by the coconut shell, photo by Kristin Hashimoto

Ever wonder what ‘awa is? It has different names depending on its origin, but some call it Kava, or ava. Here in Hawai’i, ‘awa has been used medicinally and recreationally. Holistic stores tout the body benefits of this calming drink, tonic, distillation and/or capsule.

At Wow-Wee Maui, Kava is offered by the coconut shell, for around $6. This muddy murky drink might seem a bit mysterious to the tourists and the locals who haven’t been introduced to an ‘awa circle. This drink also tastes as it looks. This plant root is ground and mixed with warm water and/or coconut water and is massaged through layers of fine cloth to reduce debris.

Some say it’s in the hand movements, when the ‘awa is massaged through the cloth under warm water, or the ratio of ‘awa used in the drink, that makes the ‘awa a relaxing time. Whatever the case, don’t expect a to taste something amazing. In fact, suspend expectation and go in with an open mind. If you feel some numbness or tingling on your gums, lips and tongue, that’s the drink’s kavalactones at work.

Why do people enjoy this drink? Some say that it induces a relaxed state without compromising mental clarity. Others might cite its cultural importance in the story time of an ‘awa circle. Go with friends, talk story, enjoy and possibly, repeat. Wow-Wee Maui Kava Bar and Grill is located at 333 Dairy Road in Kahului. Call, 871-1414 for more information.

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