How Long Do You Have to Wait for Kava to Kick In?

Kava Culture
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Kava is great when you need to relax, go out with friends, or spend some time working on a project. One thing we all can agree on, whether you are new to drinking kava or have been drinking kava for years, is that we love its effect on us and how it makes us feel. Kava is a great way to unwind or get focused on whatever it is you are doing while drinking it.

If you a new to drinking kava one question can cross your mind. How long does it take before you start to feel its effects? There are several variables that come into play to answer that question. The potency of the kava, what you eat, and personal tolerance are three factors that will determine the time in which you can start to feel it kicking in.

One thing I love to do when I drink kava is go surfing. A little before and after my surfing session is my go-to. I find it just enhances the whole experience. A few of us here at Kava-Bula will meet up and have one shell before we all go paddle out and by the time we make it to the beach, it all kicks in.

Time is a factor that comes into play when you drink kava since we all look forward to the effect it has on us. So let’s take a closer look at the three factors mentioned earlier that determine how and when kava starts to work.

Factor #1: Potency

Kava has a variety of different strengths and effects depending on how you want to feel. Some kava bars will have several different types for you to choose from. One choice that is commonly found at kava bars is a concentrated option. When choosing this option you can expect to feel the effects at both a quicker rate and a bit more intensity in comparison to a regular shell of kava.

When the concentrated dose metabolizes in your body it essentially hits a bit harder so you can expect to also kick in a bit faster. This is ideal at times if you want those kavalactones to get you nice and relaxed. Now depending on what type of kava is in the concentrated form determines the specifics of how you will feel.

Certain varieties will make you feel energetic and give you some pep in your step. Others can do the opposite and make you feel very relaxed. Kava bartenders are very knowledgeable about the different types they are serving you so it’s best to ask so you will know what to expect.

It is important to pace yourself accordingly and remember to drink water. Drinking a serving of concentrated kava can definitely dehydrate you. It would also be wise to limit yourself as you would drinking regular kava.

What you eat prior to or during actually can also determine the rate at kava will start to kick in which brings us to our next factor.

Factor #2: What Foods You Eat

It has been known that certain foods you eat while drinking kava can actually enhance the effects of kava. This factor could also speed up the time in which kava starts to kick in. I have been told by different kava bartenders that eating spicy foods can really enhance how kava metabolizes in your body, adding more intensity and quicker responses to its effects.

Eating foods that are rich in fats can also enhance the kava you drink. Some kava options will be to mix a dairy creamer or coconut creamer to not only make kava a bit more palatable but also will heighten the feeling. I have read on several kava forums that some people plan a particular meal for kava for this reason.

Now there are other foods that can slow the effects or tone down the intensity of kava. It is pretty common to find snacks at kava bars because of this reason. They are there to either enhance or tone down the intensity.

All of this can really be determined by another variable which brings us up to our last point.

Factor# 3: Personal Tolerance

Like all things that are taken over time, you will develop a tolerance. It blows my mind how some people are able to eat raw jalapeno and not show a single sign of agony. This is because they have developed a tolerance over time to enable them to eat something so hot yet not agonize like most people who haven’t developed this ability.

This also applies to kava drinkers. Kava may start to kick in pretty quickly if you are new to drinking it since your body is new to metabolizing it. So it is fairly common for someone new to start feeling kava’s effect after the first couple of drinks. That’s great news for all the kava newbies.

For the seasoned kava drinker not so much. Anyone who has been drinking kava for a long period of time could tell you how their tolerance had changed since the first time they started. This only makes sense as their body has acclimated to metabolizing it. So it takes a bit of a longer time frame in which the effects of kava will start to work in comparison to a kava newbie.


Looking at these three factors will determine how fast kava will start to work for you. We now know that the potency, what foods you eat, and your kava tolerance are variables of how fast kava will kick and start feeling its effects. These results can all vary but this gives you a general idea of what to expect.

It goes without a doubt that most of the team here at Kava-Bula are seasoned kava drinkers. One thing is for certain, despite the potency of our kava, what we eat, and our tolerances we all start to feel those wonderful effects within our first shell. That is one of the great aspects of drinking kava.

If you have enjoyed this segment be sure to subscribe to our free newsletter. That way you can stay up to date will all things related to kava and stay informed of the wonderful Polynesian drink we all have come to love and continue to enjoy. Bula!


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