That time we all got high on kava. For journalism.

It's 2 am and I am hugging the porcelain thrown and expelling my innards. I've been drinking ancient ceremonial tea all night and probably had drugs in it. 

There are plenty of things we could have done in Downtown Asheville. Fancy fudge, craft breweries, coffee in a giant to name a few of the suggestions given to us. But like all legendary nights that start with your friends and the words, "you won't," this one ended with getting high, purging and even a crime.

We walked into the auspicious tea joint to a scene I'd expect in California. People lazily draped over couches covered in multi-colored patches of fabric wearing tattered rags and shirts with political statements like, "Don't take away my weed."

We order our cup of kava, which is served cold and with pineapple. I learn that kava has an entire culture and etiquette around it. When consumed in its native home of Fiji, you are given the option of a “low tide” or “high tide” serving. We took the latter. Immediately my tongue and lips tingle with numbness and I begin to giggle. The happy has arrived.

"I get it, man," I find myself saying in response to the fellow patrons' shirts. "Why are we so hung up on pot? Someone should tell that guy about kava though."

If you Google kava, numerous results with warnings and side effects will ensue. Kava is a root that causes a euphoric and relaxed feeling. What my stoner friends would refer to as a nice high. Google will also inform you it’s an acquired taste. You should not believe Google. 

The last of the grainy brown liquid goes down jaggedly. I take the pineapple kindly provided as a garnish and squeeze every last drop of juice out.

One of the owners of the shop, our kava guide for the evening, joins us. He's friendly and well spoken as he opens us up to the history of this root. Intelligent and alert as he may be, I cannot say the same for his faculties. He has the body language of a stroke victim.

“What do I have to drink to get like that?” my fiance whispers the bartender.


It takes roughly 20 glasses of kratum to become Mick Jagger. Fear not having a glass, you’ll be fine. Kratum is served warm and tastes like herbal tea. You won’t need a pineapple or a hail Mary to tolerate it.

As the boys switched over to kratum, a polite man donning dreadlocks begins to tell us about it. The gentlemen, a former opium addict, offers his perspective. Kratum relaxes you the same way kava does, but with an added layer of focus and creative inspiration. A more purposeful high, if you will.

As we consider these differences, a woman runs in desperately looking around the shop until she lays her eyes on my fiance. “Can I get a cigarette?” she says anxiously. Although he had just finished rolling a fresh one, I see him consider the karma points before handing it to her. She smiles, looks down and runs out. 

If it weren't for the loss feeling of my face, I'd ask him why he gave that crazy lady his cigarette. Moments later, Jack Sparrow informs us she's committed a crime with her boyfriend and was arrested shortly after. That was her last cigarette for a while.