During my recent respite to the sleepy Smokies in Asheville, NC, you better believe the last thing I expected to do was drink ancient ceremonial tea known to have some pretty psychedelic effects. But, when you go on vacation, one must flow with the cosmos and be open to even the craziest experiences. In other words, when traveling, one must YOLO. Always.
Thus started our crazy kava adventure. We met our good friends Dalia and Jason Fox, who happened to be in a cabin nearby. After catching up, Dalia mentioned there was a “kava place” just around the corner. What? She went on to explain that kava is a ceremonial tea she drank in Fiji that makes you feel… happy. Well, allright. I want some happy in my life, I thought. So the Fox’s, Jaime and I made our way to Noble Kava, not knowing our night would end with some peculiar new friends, purging and even a crime.
Located in a discreet corner of downtown, Noble Kava looks like an auspicious tea joint on the outside and an Amsterdam coffeeshop on the inside. The ambiance was warm and inviting, so we made our way to the bar. Here’s where it gets good.
We order our cup of kava, which is served cold and with pineapple. I learned that kava has an entire culture and etiquette behind it, and when you drink it in Fiji, you are given the option of a “low tide” or “high tide” serving. We took the latter. Immediately our tongues and lips tingled with numbness and Dalia and I began to giggle. The happy had arrived.
If you Google kava, you will get numerous results with warnings and side effects. Kava is a root that causes a euphoric and relaxed feeling. There’s nothing crazier to it. Google will also inform you it’s an acquired taste. Here’s where you should not believe Google. I don’t see how anyone acquires this if they have functioning taste buds. The sweet little pineapple is your chaser. Ask for extra.
One of the owners, a kind gentleman, was our kava guide for the evening. Extremely friendly and well spoken, he opened us up to the history of this root. While he was intelligent and alert, we could not say the same for his faculties and he had the body language of Captain Jack Sparrow. Immediately, Jaime asks the bartender, “What do I have to drink to get like that?”
I will take the opportunity here to state one must drink about 20 glasses of kratum to become Mick Jagger. Fear not having a glass, you’ll be fine. None of us left in any such condition. 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 began to tell us about it. The gentlemen, a former opium addict, offered 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 considered these differences, a woman suddenly ran in desperately looking around the shop until she laid her eyes on Jaime. “Can I get a cigarette?” she said anxiously. Although he had just finished rolling a fresh one, I saw him consider the karma points before happily handing it to her. She smiled, looked down and ran out. We were all a bit confused but figured it came with the strange territory.
Moments later, Jack Sparrow came to inform us she had committed a crime with her boyfriend and was arrested shortly after. That was her last cigarette for a while. Karma points for us!
We concluded our journey at several pubs nearby until Downtown Asheville was open no longer. After we bid our farewells, still giggling and recounting our strange night, my tummy began to turn. I was the only soul who hadn’t drank a drop of beer and the only one who puked. While no one else had a similar experience, I feel compelled to mention it just in case you have a weak stomach as I do. However, I don’t regret trying the funny root that led us to experience Noble Kava, its kind owners and inhabitants… even its criminals.
Peace, love and karma,