At a kava symposium held in Fiji last week, a main concern was Vanuatu's export of a specific variation of the intoxicating pepper root called tudei (or as commonly spelled, "two-day") kava. Experts said they fear countries could ban all kava and destroy the industry because some exporters were selling "two-day" kava as traditional kava. The two-day strain is reportedly stronger (resulting in a "two-day" buzz) but also, experts said, could lead to bad experiences for some users.
But at least two South Florida kava sellers say they aren't worried. Both Mystic Water Kava Bar and Nakava import kava (including two-day kava) from Vanuatu. No one at either location had heard about a potential export ban or feared one, since there have been no customer complaints about the kava since either have opened. See also: Plant Being Sold as Kava Could Make People Sick
At Mystic Water Kava Bar, a person, who preferred to not give his name, answered the phone. "We import from the island of Vanuatu and we've been dealing with the same middleman and farm since the day we opened," he said. "We've never had a problem."
This anonymous kava guru explained that two-day kava has a stronger effect on muscles and is very earthy. He's never heard of any adverse side-effects from patrons.
Kava has been banned in the European Union before. A study conducted by the CDC suggested kava causes liver damage. Kava supporters, however, said that study was tainted because patients were ingesting a tincture or pill extract during the experiment.
"The only thing we do with our kava is mix it in water and drink it," manager of Nakava, Jeffrey The Fijian, said. He was born and raised in Fiji.
Both say problems could arise by including the stem (which might not be completely edible) of the kava plant when preparing a kava drink. But Mystic Water Kava Bar and Nakava only use the roots of the plant, anyways. The leaves are actually poisonous.
According to Vanuatu's Kava Act of 2002, all kava must be planted for at least five years before harvest and cultivated organically. Two-day kava can only be exported if the overseas seller complies with restriction of the Plant Protection Act.
Jeffrey The Fijian supports kava being regulated if it would ensure kava's safety. "I get really upset," he explained. "Where I'm from, kava is like our particular God and it's a thing we don't mess with."
In 2012, Jeffrey visited Fiji and witnessed the devastation after a flood. The water damage led farmers to pick the kava before its harvest time and sold it. "People are buying it here and are like 'how come this doesn't taste good?' Jeffrey said. "There's been bad kava."
In 2011, a Boynton Beach man was arrested for Driving While Under the Influence of kava. A couple is currently suing Purple Lotus Kava Bar for addiction to a kava drink that was laced with another substance, kratom.
See Also: -- Kratom Drink: We Try It Oursevles
" I was a pharmacist back in Fiji and I had never seen anyone get sick with kava," Jeffrey states. "I come here and people have liver failure."
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