Nakamal At Home – Wow! Vanuatu Kava

In J. Maarten Troost’s “Getting Stoned With Savages: A Trip Through the Islands of Fiji and Vanuatu,” he describes his first experience with Kava kava as something like an opening up to the world, a new liberation into a social universe he had never before known. Meeting an acquaintance at a Nakamal in Vanuatu for the first time, he calls him his “brother” and remembering his wife is around exclaims “that’s my wife…. I love my wife!” The importance and poignancy of everything close to him in his life is revealed to him at once. Well, at least after two shells. He senses serenity, contentment, and an emotion as far from dissatisfaction as one can possibly feel. This is how good Kava is supposed to make you feel.

“Wow”doesn’t even begin to describe Wow! Vanuatu Kava. At $30.00 for 250 grams, one feels like they have cheated Nakamal At Home. “Really, this was only thirty bucks?” It is a very fine, Kavasseur grade Kava kava that can only be described as perfect. It is far easier to prepare than coarser Kava kavas like Black Sand Kava. One cup of Wow! is good for about two and a half cups of cold water, but after kneading I transferred the remaining root into another cold cup of water and got a few more shells of weaker Kava kava out of it. With something as high quality as this, you want to lick the dish when you’re done.

First, the flavor. Very good. After brewing, note the gorgeous color of this Kava – it looks like Chai Latte or White Chocolate Milk. This is about as mild as Kava kava can taste. My advice is similar to what Thelonious Monk’s would be: Straight, No Chaser. Put the tropical fruits away, you’ll want to navigate through the whole bouquet of flavors Wow! has to offer. Although not as tasty as Black Sand Kava, this brew is very satisfying.You will feel numbness in your nose just sniffing the shell. The flavor lacks spiciness and has a creamier, almost taro-like taste. There is even some minor natural sweetness to be found in the aftertaste. It is mild, but serene. If you don’t like the taste of a typical shell of Kava, you will love this. But chances are that this Kava is far too powerful for you (in terms of the effects) if you haven’t grown to appreciate the flavor of a good Kava kava. With that in mind, be careful who you brew Wow! for. This is absolutely NOT for newcomers.

I wasn’t prepared, or worthy enough, for the powerful effect this Kava kava had on me. As Kavasseurs in the Pacific say, this “kava speaks to you.” Rating the effects/potency of this Kava is impossible, because it simply sails off the charts. Nakamal At Home is quite honest when they tell you to avoid machinery after drinking Kava kava, but after drinking Wow! don’t even get into a car. Three shells will get you krunked enough to want to find the nearest bean bag and just dream away. About an hour after I drank three shells I got into someone’s car to get some dinner and felt very dizzy – I asked to go back home and once I was on solid ground I felt fine. This is real Vanuatu high grade Kava kava – respect it.

That being said, holy shit. This is the real deal. Believe me when I say that this stuff will floor you. If you drink Kava on a regular basis, don’t even think twice – buy Wow! right now. I wish it had more to offer in the way of flavor, but Nakamal At Home aren’t lying when they tell you this stuff is rare, potent, and connoisseur grade. What is even more impressive is that Nakamal At Home claims that Chief’s Jungle Kava (a Papua New Guinean variety available at their website) is even stronger than this. I’ll believe it when I feel it.

Flavor – 9/10
Effect – 9/10

Nakamal At Home – Wow! Vanuatu Kava – 9 shells out of 10.

Nakamal at Home – Black Sand Kava

IMG_0370Before I begin, let me say a few things about Nakamal at home. I have never been to their Kava Bar, and I have never corresponded with them at all. I came across their website while surfing for new sources of Kava kava. I ordered a half kilo of Black Sand Kava, a quarter kilo of Wow! Kava, and a quarter kilo of Stone Kava. I also ordered some straining bags from them, and two half coconut bowls. I ordered everything on Friday, and it was delivered by Monday. Free shipping, three days – unbelievable. Great costumer service, check.

After processing Nakamal at Home’s “Black Sand Kava,” I sat down to drink it and immediately indulged in the scent. I made the Kava so that it retained a nice froth, and put some ice cubes in it to give it a nice chill – I like to drink my Kava a little cold. The head is nice, earthy, and has a fresh rain smell to it. Some people don’t like the taste of Kava but enjoy the feeling it gives them. I like the taste of Kava and the feeling it gives me. This Kava seems to retain the rich, deep, flavor of the black volcanic soils it is grown in. It is very spicy, and the spice seems to almost naturally dance with the numbing qualities of the kavalactones. It has an almost peppery taste, but the ginger tones of stronger Kavas aren’t present. It has more of a nutty flavor than other Kavas – the clay, earthy taste is minimized by the peppery pistachio flavor. But still, you get a taste for the fertile volcanic soils it is grown in. Very pleasant, the best flavor I’ve tasted in a Kava. Kava is a root of the earth, so it seems obvious that it would embody the flavor of the soils it is grown in. The flavor of this Kava kava is unparalleled, unique, and on flavor alone is very high on this Kavasseur’s list of Kava kava varieties.

This Kava has quite mild effects. Even though the effects are quite mild, Black Sand hits you instantaneously. I was literally already feeling the impact during my first cup – tingle, numbness, slight giggles, and then euphoria. The dizzying numbness that Black Sand Kava produces on your lips doesn’t seem to quite match the relatively mild satisfying buzz it gives your body. I’m not saying it doesn’t feel good – it does. It is light and has a mellow lift to it that you can feel in your head. It gives your skin a nice tingle. Perfect for the Kava newcomer. If I wanted to really shake off some stress I’d go for something stronger – but this is more than adequate for a Monday night. If you are expecting guests and want them to have a taste of the Pacific, this is perfect.

I look forward to reviewing Stone Kava and Wow! Kava here within the next week.

Flavor 10/10
Effect 7/10

Nakamal At Home’s “Black Sand Kava” – 8.5 out of 10.