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Kava Strains: The Hawaii Edition, Part 2

When you think of Hawaii, what immediately comes to mind?  Coconuts?  Palm trees?  Outsiders to Hawaii most often think of this group of islands as a tourist destination, not a rich traditional culture.  So tourists to Hawaii hole up in a resort and drink nothing but beer and martinis…all the while not realizing that Hawaiian culture provides, a safe, mellow alternative: kava, or as the Hawaiian natives call it, “awa”.

Newcomers to kava are often unaware of the sheer number of Polynesian cultures that consume kava, or the myriad strains of kava and their effects.  Hawaii has its own unique strains, and it is well worth it to become familiar with the kava Hawaii has to offer.  



This cultivar is tall, growing to a height of over 12 feet.  Original wild samples contained an average kavalactone content of 4.85 percent, whereas recent liberally fertilized samples approach 12 percent kavalactones.  Its chemotype is 462531.  Unfortunately, this strain is rare and difficult to find.



Cultivated batches of this cultivar have tested out at 8.42 percent kavalactones, whereas wild batches contain as much as 14 percent kavalactones.  It affects the body and mind equally, making it a nice “balanced” kava.  The effects can gradually creep up on the user, so it is important for consumers to pace themselves with this strain.


Papa ‘ele‘ele

This strain is sometimes called the “Queen’s Awa” or the “Lu’ukia”.  Papa ‘ele‘ele is the dominant strain in the Waipi’o Valley and the area of valley this strain is found is sometimes called the “Queen’s Awa Patch”.   According to tradition, Lu’ukia was the wife of the ruler ‘Olopana and she lived in this valley in the 1300s.  It also grows in the Waimanu valley in Hawaii, and in the Kīpahulu Valley of Maui.  This is a very potent kava, with samples containing anywhere from eight percent to over 20 percent kavalactone content.


Papa ‘ele‘ele pu‘upu‘u

This strain is named after Papa ‘ele’ele but with the addition of the word “pu’upu’u” which means “full of lumps”.  It has been collected from forest stands in Honolua, the Kīpahulu Valley in Maui, and from the Puna district of the island of Hawaii.  One of the more potent strains, this kava produces kavalactones in the six to 15 percent range.


Have a taste of Hawaii at Ohana Kava Bar in Colorado Springs

If you are lucky enough to be in the Colorado Springs area, please visit Ohana Kava Bar, in downtown Colorado Springs and North Academy Boulevard.  You’ll get to experience what the Hawaiian islanders have always known was a best kept secret.  If you have any further questions about this wonderful plant, ask Matt Clark, or one of his knowledgeable “kava slingers” and they will be more than happy to help.