The People Who Discovered Kava

Kava Culture
Check OutThe Definitive Answer On Should You Drink Kava Fast Or Slow?

Who discovered kava? The first people to have discovered kava more than likely lived several thousands of years ago. When we talk about the discovery of kava it is important to remember that we are discussing the first people to make drinking kava part of their culture and heritage. Therefore here is the first group of people that we know of who ‘discovered’ kava.

When it came to the first people who drank or discovered kava the Polynesian sea travelers of the 3rd and 2nd millennium BC were the ones to first start experimenting with drinking kava. We know of this because archeologists have dated the spread of Polynesian culture and language. Kava as a cultural drink is first recorded to have been drunk in the southwestern region of the pacific ocean almost 2,000 years ago. It is believed that the modern island of New Guinea and the Republic of Vanuatu is where kava originated from.

Kava as a drink is a cultural experience. Here at Kava-Bula, we want to help people explore this cultural drink in a safe and effective manner. It is important to drink kava in groups as the drink is designed to bring the local community together.

Let’s jump right into the article on the first people who discovered kava.

Polynesian Seafarers ‘Discovering’ Kava In The 3rd Millennia BC

The first people to discover kava was the ancient Polynesian sea explorers. Nobody really knows where these people originated from but the idea is that at some point in the 3rd century millennia BC teams of explorers in two-hull dugout canoes left out of a series of islands in the southeastern pacific and began to colonize the pacific islands.

These explorers brought with them the kava plant and the tradition of drinking it in social circles. It is believed that as ancient kava culture spread eastwards across the Pacific it started to displace other forms of social intoxicants such as betel chewing as a form of social pastime.

As more and more islands started to get introduced to the kava root plant individual cultures and customs started to form. When we go home and visit our individual islands each community has a slightly different way of drinking kava. The idea is that each island was introduced to kava at a separate time and started to form an individual approach to the kava ritual.

People would continue to drink kava on these islands well up until the modern era. It was not discovered but rather was built into the culture of the island over several centuries. Today when you visit the Pacific islands between Hawaii and Vietnam you will encounter kava as a community drink, it was not discovered but has been present there in the culture for hundreds of years.

The Western World Discovering Kava In The 16th Century

During the late 15th century Spanish explorers began to explore west of Latin and South America. Here they found the modern country of the Philippines and started to colonize the island chain. This would have been the first time in history that the modern western world came into contact with kava.

However, there are no reports of the Spanish conquistadors interacting with the kava plant. They were undoubtedly in the right area but chances are they did not take part in the community ritual of kava drinking. Generally, it is accepted however that it was during the 16th century that the ‘west’ first came into contact with the kava root.

Our first mention of kava as a ritualistic drink by a western report comes from the Hawaiian historian Davida Malo who lived in the Hawaiin Kingdom from 1795 to 1853. Many native Hawaiians consider him the first Hawaiin historian and much of his work is still not attributed to him properly.

The 19th-century American historian Nathanial Emerson translated much of Davida Malo’s work and found an 18th-century Hawaiin chant outlining the drinking of a “black sacred ‘awa.” Many people in the kava community believe is the first example of the west learning the ritualistic kava drink.

So, to easily answer the question for ya. The west officially discovered kava sometime around the late 18th century. It is also highly possible that Spanish conquistadors also discovered kava during their colonization of the Philippians in the 16th and 17th centuries.

People Discovering Kava Today

As we speak there are thousands of people re-discovering kava across much of North America. Kava bars have been opening up across the United States and are quickly becoming a pastime that brings the local community together. Much of our team here at Kava-Bula lives in the United States and we are seeing these kava bars open up everywhere.

We are both happy and scared for the future of the drink. It is a cultural beverage that is designed to bring the local community together. we love seeing people drinking and discovering the drink on a daily basis but some people don’t understand that you are supposed to take it easy and drink for your community’s health.

Kava will more than likely take the world by storm over the next 10 to 15 years. It is a great alternative to alcohol and often brings people together instead of driving them apart. If you are just now discovering kava remember to drink it with respect and take it slow and easy. If done properly then you can expect to have a great time and help others discover kava as well.

As always when you drink kava remember to toast and say ‘bula.’ This word is part of the process and helps unite everyone into talking and sharing stories. When you drink kava you are drinking for the betterment of the community, and when you say ‘bula’ you are wishing everyone around you good health.

So, bula to you and I hope you enjoy discovering kava!


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