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September 9, 2008

Mizuho, being fairly seriously into the collection of herbal lotions and organic potions, turned to me one day and asked if I had heard of kava. I had on account of someone I work with being a fairly frequent consumer of the stuff. She had recommended it as a stress reliever, a good way to wind down the weekend.

Kava refers to the gray powder produced by grinding up the roots of the kava plant. It is popular in the Pacific islands – Fiji in particular, I believe – as a mild tranquilizer and associated with varying degrees of ritual. It is normally consumed in the form of a foul-tasting tea.

We had the chance to try it out at the house of my kava-swilling coworker’s friend. I guess the people hanging out there had been consuming it all day (or possibly something more potent) because the atmosphere in the place was bordering on that of an opium den. Folks lounging about didn’t seem to notice that we had arrived, their attention trained on a tv broadcasting the Olympics.

However, when we were offered and accepted our coconut rinds full of kava, we were not magically transported to lala land. In fact, I’m not sure it affected me at all, aside from a slight numbing of the tongue during consumption. Drinking a beer, or even a cup of coffee would have made more of an impact. And it would have tasted better, too.

Apparently, I’ve been told, you have to consume a reasonably large quantity of the stuff for it to be potent. I don’t know… if you drink enough of anything – carrot juice, for example – you might start to feel intoxicated. I’ll still take a cup of coffee.


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