Hawaiian kava

Pohnpei has two varieties of sakau,  rahmedel (rahmoadoal), and rahmwanger. Rahmedel has smooth stems, a light green stem color, and long internodes. Other names for rahmedel include kohre and kalaidong. Rahmwanger has darker stems, black spots on the stem (not smooth), and short internodes. Other names for rahmwanger include kohkore and nahniepw (nahnioapw).

Kosrae has a third variety of sakau with a different mix of kavalactones.

Kava variety from Hawaii

Last night a local market served a variety said to have originated in Hawaii. The market had already determined that the variety was bitter beyond the capacity of the keleu (koaloau) to offset. As a result the market chose to blend the Hawaiian kava with a local variety.

Kava variety

The internodes are very short and the stems do not develop black mottling spots until they are more mature. The spots are not as prominent as those on rahmwanger. The plant also appears to grow taller than the local varieties on Pohnpei.

Kava stem

The blend has a peppery undertone and strong almost tropical woodsy aftertones. The flavor is quite different from that of the two varieties present on Pohnpei.

Kava stem
Some internodes are longer

Because the mix was a blend, determining which effects were due to the local plant and which due to the Hawaiian plant could not clearly be determined. The Hawaiian kava component did seem to lend strength to the sakau which remained strong into the evening.

The natural emetic effect of dihydrokavain and dihydromethysticin complicates drinking strong kava, my own sense was that the Hawaiian plant had higher concentrations of DHK and DHM than, for example, the high kavain variety of Kosrae.

The rapid onset of sleepiness followed by less severe oan sakau suggests more DHK than DHM, but again, the brew was a mixed batch. The mixed brew certainly renders one sakaula and diplopic fairly quickly and I was home and sleeping like an infant before eight in the evening.


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