Kava is a unique species of the Piper family. Hand bred and artificially selected, it has been shaped by human evolution for thousands of years. Many different kinds of kava were bred giving rise to a different taste, and ultimately provide a different feel.
So what to do we mean when we say varietals?
It's like comparing apples with, well, apples. Grannysmith, Fuji, Red Delicious, Braeburn, and Honeycrisp are all different types of apples. No one could ever argue after biting into these that they are apples; it's just the subtle differences that turn them into a different variety of the same underlining fruit or plant. In botany they've named this as 'variety' or 'subspecies.' And in this case, they've done the same in the Pacific. Each Kava varietal has a unique name, taste, and overall "feel."
In the world of kava- the taste of the final product we serve you is dependent on quite a few factors.
Kava is usually blended with a certain portion of lateral roots, and rhizome (or the stump root). The more lateral root that is added to a blend, the more you can expect a more spicy, bitter taste. There is typically a higher concentration of certain kavalactones in the lateral roots to give you that good feeling. The rhizome is important because it also has a different concentration of kavalactones that mellows the intensity of the often more bitter lateral roots. A typical kava blend with a higher percentage of rhizome will have a whiter, milkier appearance and is much easier on the palette.
We source most of our Kava from Vanuatu, where there are over 70 known varieties available, a lot of which are considered noble, or prized. Only the most desirable strains for everyday drinking are selected to be noble varieties- the same kinds you'll find at our bar. These are the time tested varietals that have been harvested and planted by natives for eons. ALWAYS ASK ABOUT THE VARIETAL OF KAVA! We can't stress this enough.
The varieties we offer will change daily, but heres a few you can expect to find at MeloMelo:
Melo-Melo kava comes from Ambae Island in Vanuatu. Melo-Melo has a bright color and a thick, peppery taste. Its effects are very relaxing as the name indicates. It is similar in strength to the Marang-Marang and provides a very mellow and relaxing buzz.
Pentecost Pride is made using Premium Borogu roots from the region of Southern Pentecost, it is a blend of 80/20 roots that give the real kava effect that people who drink and buy kava in Vanuatu expect at the very best kava bars. It offers a great balance of kavalactones which provide a "middle of the road" buzz when compared to other cultivars. We buy Pentecost Pride straight from the islands, with only one middle man, allowing the greatest benefit of the purchase to reach the farmers.
Malekula Magic offers a milder taste for customers who don't want too much "bite" in the taste. Sourced from the earthy and rich soil found in Malekula, it is an extremely smooth blend of kava. It is prepared by them in the custom Malekula method by removing a large amount of the skin, which reduces the bitter taste normally associated withkava from other neighboring islands. Malekula Magic will give you a gentler kava buzz then Pentecost Pride; it is also not as strong to taste. With Vanuatu kava of this type, the customer should expect a milder taste and a mellower effect.
Fu'u is a very peppery blend from the island of Tanna. It is a dark kava that still provides a very strong body buzz. It has a very earthy, bitter finish and is considered to be medium in strength.
Borogu's Lateral Root (Black Sands) is made of 100% lateral roots with no blend of peeled stump. As a result, there is a strong bitter taste with a strong, peppery finish. This is the cream of the crop in terms of the Borogu strain. The lateral roots are those that creep outward and suck up the nutrients. This produces root tissue that is much richer in the active alkaloids of the plant, provides a different ratio of kavalactones and generally has a much more pronounced effect than other borogu strain. Customers can expect a headier effect than that of the Pentecost Pride, yet they will still feel a strong body buzz that people will come to expect from our flagship product.
Kaolik is truly the kava of legends. Tanna Island is renowned as the island with the strongest kava in Vanuatu and the Kaolik kava strain, due to its thick stump and thick lateral roots, and is considered the strongest of the Tanna kava species. Consumers who enjoy Tanna kava are enjoying the strongest kava available in Vanuatu.
Marang-Marang kava is another wonderfully potent Tanna-range kava. A smaller strain of kava to the other, popular Kaollik, it is also milder to taste and with similarities to the smooth Melo Melo kava strain found in the northern islands of Vanuatu. Marang-Marang is currently the favorite kava powder of our team at VKS in Vanuatu, who definitely know their kava, and we believe that if you are to buy Vanuatu kava then this is a very good start.