Yaqona is Fiji’s national drink made from the powdered root of the pepper tree. It is prepared and offered in a social ritual known as the kava ceremony. Once reserved for chiefs and elders, now commonly served to visitors to welcome then as honored guests at local villages as well as resorts, it is also used for special occasions to seal treaties, close business deals and christen babies.
To try this very popular hand-mixed brownish beverage, request a “low tide” or small serving. If you are feeling enthusiastic, asking for a “high tide” will get you a full cup – to be downed in one draft. And you will certainly be invited to stay for more rounds of drinks until the wooden tanoa bowl is empty.
Although, kava is non-alcoholic with a mild flavor, it does leave a slight tingling on the tongue. Over the years, I have participated in this ceremony many times in many locations throughout Fiji. Personally, I think it is an acquired taste.
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