The Kava
Kava in the Fiji Islands

Kava is the Fiji Islands goes by the name of Yaqona. Kava cultivation represents a 30 million dollar business in the domestic market and 14 million in the export market. The main cultivars grown are Loa Kasa Leka and Loa Kasa balavu because of their hardiness and resistence to disease. Fijians have both green (Vula) and purple colored cultivars (Loa) but they favor the green over the purple because it produces a better beverage. The green cultivars produce chemotypes beginning with 462 which is a chemotype that produces a very palatable drink and much appreciated by consumers. The purple cultivars show a chemotype of 643 or 642 and are not available for resale so we will not discuss them any furthur. Interestingly, the chemotypes of Fijian kava show a higher percentage of methysticin (M) than those from Vanuatu. M is the last value in a 6 digit chemotype. Anyway, here are the most popular Fijian kavas:

This kava is cultivated on Vanua Levu, Liti Levu, and Kadavu. 

One has to wonder if this kava is related to Honolulu that is grown in Vanuatu. 

In the botanical record with chemotype of 246513, it sometimes comes up for resale as a single strain with chemotype 426531.

You don’t see this for sale for it has chemotype 426351 however in certain areas it has been tested with chemotype 246 and 624. 

Chemotype of 462351. 

Chemotype of  462315.  This is popular kava and is often used in blends.  Vula kavas are more sedating and less euphoric than others from Fiji.

Chemotype of 264531 

Chemotype of 643251.

Chemotype of 642351.  Used in blends and currently sold as Savusavu Waka.

Chemotype of 642351.

Chemotype of 462351. 

Chemotype of 642351.

Chemotype of 643521.

Kava Blends in the Fiji Islands

I have noticed that most Fijian kavas are sold as blends which is probably ok since they have less of a problem with Tudei than Vanuatu. So I asked a Fijian Vendor, Kavatimes, “Why don’t the Fijian farmers sell single cultivars?” Here is what he said.

Reply from Kavatimes:
With regards to most fijian kava being a blend. Well in Fiji most farmers have been using whatever kasa cuttings they get to plant and expand their farms. So most farms have a widespread of different cultivars planted at the same time. When it comes to harvesting, all the planted kavas of the same age range are harvested and end up being combined to make up for total weight. No one has ever cared about cultivars in Fiji. Everyone just knows kava as yaqona and all variety differences are disregarded. The most important thing which most people look for in difference is where the kava in coming from. Some people prefer kava from savusavu because it always produces a light colored beverage and is very smooth to drink. Some people kava from kadavu because its always sun-dried. There is individual characteristic of kava coming from different regions in Fiji but not much focus is put on cultivars. Its always been this way since the past. Some farmers do plant particular cultivars depending on how well it performs in growth. But its very rarely just a single cultivar. Most farmers differentiate the kava by color either being colored black(purple) or green. Apparantly for them green ones grow faster and black ones are more resistance to damage/pests/death etc.

Dokobana Loa
Matakaro Balavu
Vula Kasa Balavu
Qila Leka
Qila Balavu
Loa Kasa Balavu
Dokobana Loa
Loa Kasa Leka
Dokobana Vula