Authentic Pacific Kava Drink Recipe

Authentic Pacific Kava Drink Recipe

This kava drink recipe is consumed throughout the Pacific islands, made from the ground roots of the yagona plant. It offers some of the most interesting insights into traditions, culture and the rituals among the cultures who consume it.

The effects of this traditional kava drink recipe are a bit like alcohol with a general buzz, enhanced sociability, lower inhibitions and a feeling of relaxation, but without the side effects of causing dizziness or nausea that you get from alcohol.

Kava can be quite addictive, but it has been found to have medicinal qualities like lowering anxiety, curing insomnia and treating depression.

In general, people will drink a small quantity of about 1/2 of a cup of ground kava root, but drinking more than this can have effects of euphoria. It also makes your tongue go numb.

Kava is a delicacy in Fiji, Tonga, Hawaii, Micronesia, Samoa and Vanuatu where it is mostly drunk by men in a diverse variety of ways.

For example in parts of Fiji (where it is also known as ‘grog’ or ‘yaqona’), it is drunk ceremonially where people will be served according to their status.

Similarly in Samoa kava is drunk at important meetings, such as between the chiefs of different tribes, and is served in half a coconut shell.

In Tonga, kava is drunk recreationally on nights out and at bars. But the process is still ritualized – for example, the server should often be a young, unmarried woman and it will be consumed in a circle with men sitting cross-legged.

In Vanuatu, the culture is less ritualistic around kava but the preparation can be different, with the traditional method involving chewing the plant roots and spitting them back out into a pot which will then be steeped.

This authentic kava drink is easy to make once you have the ground kava, you use a strainer bag to steep the kava root into warm water, as you will see in the recipe below.

Some recommend using a cheese cloth but the holes in it are quite large which means some of the sediment will slip through, so a strainer bag is better if you can get hold of one.

How to make Fijian Kava Drink Recipe

Fijian Kava Drink Recipe

This kava drink recipe is consumed throughout the Pacific islands such as Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu, made from the ground roots of the yagona plant. 

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 4 people
Author Travel Food Atlas


  • 1/2 cup Ground kava root
  • 2 cups Water
  • 1 Strainer bag
  • 1 Large bowl


  1. Measure out your kava root according to taste, a typical serving would usually be a 1/2 cup per person.
  2. Place the kava root into the strainer and boil your water so you have 2 cups of boiling water per serving. Note that for the best results your water shouldn't be fully boiled but should be hot. If your water does boil then you can leave it for 5 minutes until it reaches an acceptable temperature.
  3. Place your strainer of kava root in a bowl and pour in your hot water, this can sit for around 10 minutes whilst the mixture steeps.
  4. After 10 minutes or so, squeeze your strainer tightly and start kneading the remaining kava root inside to go into the bowl.
  5. Your mixture should now be a nice brown color, the kava sediments should be contained within the straining bag and shouldn't have made it to the bowl but if some have then don't worry too much.
  6. Pour your liquid into a container and refrigerate until it is cold.
  7. Pour into a glass and enjoy!
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