Yaqona – Fijian Kava Drink


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Welcome to our blog post featuring the traditional Fijian drink known as Yaqona. Also called kava, Yaqona holds great cultural significance in Fiji and is consumed during social gatherings and ceremonies. This unique beverage is made from the roots of the kava plant and has been enjoyed for centuries for its relaxing and soothing properties. In this article, we will explore the history and cultural importance of Yaqona, provide a step-by-step recipe, and offer insights into its preparation, serving suggestions, and variations.

Yaqona, more commonly known as Kava, is a traditional Fijian beverage with a history deeply rooted in the South Pacific. Its origins can be traced back over 3,000 years to the islands of the Pacific Ocean, where it played a significant role in the social and cultural life of the region.

  • Kava is made from the root of the kava plant (Piper methysticum), which is native to the South Pacific islands.
  • The preparation and consumption of Kava are deeply ingrained in Fijian and Pacific Islander customs, serving as a symbol of hospitality, unity, and relaxation.
  • Traditionally, Kava was prepared by pounding or grating the kava root and mixing it with water to create a murky, earthy beverage. It was consumed in communal ceremonies, social gatherings, and rituals.

Today, Kava continues to be a cherished part of Fijian culture, and its popularity has spread to other parts of the world, where it is enjoyed for its calming and sedative effects.

Yaqona – Fijian Kava Drink

Yaqona, or kava, is a traditional Fijian drink that has been cherished for generations. Made from the roots of the kava plant (Piper methysticum), Yaqona holds deep cultural and social significance in Fiji. It is often consumed during gatherings, ceremonies, and important occasions as a way to foster connections, relaxation, and bonding within the community. Yaqona has a unique taste and is known for its calming effects, making it a popular choice for unwinding after a long day. Join us as we delve into the art of preparing Yaqona and uncover its rich cultural heritage.

Tools and Equipment

Prep Time 30 mins Total Time 30 mins Difficulty: Intermediate Servings: 8 Calories: 11.1 Best Season: Suitable throughout the year


Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Start by preparing the Yaqona root. If using dried roots, crush them into fine powder using a mortar and pestle or a kava grinder. If using fresh roots, peel the outer brown skin and cut them into small pieces.

  2. Fill the tanoa (kava bowl) with water, leaving enough space for the Yaqona root to be added.

  3. Place the Yaqona root into a cheesecloth or strainer and tie it securely.

  4. Immerse the Yaqona root bundle into the water-filled tanoa.

  5. Knead the Yaqona bundle with your hands, squeezing and releasing it in the water for about 10-15 minutes. This process is known as "waka," and it helps extract the kavalactones—the active compounds responsible for the relaxing effects.

  6. As you knead, the water will gradually turn brown and take on a muddy appearance. This indicates the release of kavalactones.

  7. Once the desired strength is achieved, remove the Yaqona bundle from the tanoa.

  8. Serve the Yaqona in coconut shells or cups, traditionally called "bilo."

  9. Offer the first cup of Yaqona to the highest-ranking guest or chief, known as the "taki ni Yaqona" or "taki."

  10. Continue serving the Yaqona to other guests in order of importance.

  11. When receiving the Yaqona, clap once, say "Bula," drink the Yaqona in one go, and clap three times.

  12. Throughout the Yaqona session, engage in conversations, storytelling, and traditional Fijian customs to foster a sense of community and connection.

Nutrition Facts

Servings 8

Amount Per Serving
Calories 11.1kcal
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 0.01g1%
Sodium 6mg1%
Potassium 83.4mg3%
Total Carbohydrate 2.58g1%
Dietary Fiber 0.73g3%
Protein 0.39g1%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs. Please note that the nutritional values provided are approximate and may vary depending on the specific ingredients and portion sizes used. It's always best to double-check with your specific ingredients and measurements for accurate nutritional information.


Tips and Variations:
  • Experiment with different Yaqona roots to find the desired strength and flavor profile.
  • For a milder taste, use less Yaqona root or dilute the mixture with additional water.
  • To enhance the flavor, add a small amount of coconut milk or other natural flavorings like vanilla or cinnamon.
  • Respect and follow the traditional customs and protocols associated with Yaqona ceremonies.
  • Store Yaqona roots in a cool and dry place to maintain their freshness.
Serving Suggestions:
  • Yaqona is traditionally enjoyed in social gatherings, ceremonies, or special events. Serve it as the centerpiece of a kava ceremony or as a welcoming gesture to guests.
  • Accompany Yaqona with traditional Fijian snacks, such as cassava chips or coconut-based treats.
  • Serve Yaqona in coconut shells or cups for an authentic Fijian experience.
  • Create a relaxing and inviting atmosphere by incorporating Fijian décor, music, and cultural elements.
Allergen Information:
  • Kava is naturally allergen-free, as it is derived from the kava plant's root and typically prepared with water.
  • However, individuals with allergies to specific plants or herbs should exercise caution, as some Kava preparations may include additional ingredients for flavor or potency.
Wine or Drink Pairing:
  • Kava is a unique beverage with distinct flavor and effects. It is traditionally consumed on its own for its calming properties rather than as a part of a pairing.
  • Kava's earthy and slightly bitter taste may not be well-suited for wine or typical drink pairings. It is usually enjoyed in a ceremonial or social context rather than alongside other beverages.
Storage and Leftovers:
  • Kava is best prepared fresh, as its potency and flavor diminish with time. Traditionally, Kava is made by grating or pounding the kava root immediately before consumption.
  • Leftover Kava, if any, should be discarded, as it does not keep well and is best experienced when freshly prepared.
  • It's essential to consume Kava in moderation, as excessive consumption may lead to undesirable side effects. Additionally, always prepare Kava using clean equipment and safe, high-quality kava root to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.
Keywords: Yaqona, Kava, Traditional Fijian Drink, Kava Ceremony, Cultural Beverage, Relaxation, Social Gathering, Root Drink, Kava Root, Piper methysticum

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