Types of Kava
There are two types of kava grown in Vanuatu, piper methysticum (noble and tudei kava) and piper wichmannii (ancestor of all kava). Noble kava takes 5 years to mature and the composition of the kavalactones – the active ingredients - are more favourable than that of the tudei kava, which can produce a kava hangover. There are some concerns that tudei varieties of kava may contain high concentrations of harmful compounds known as flavokavains which are not present in concerning amounts in noble kava. Tudei kava is quicker to grow, with plants reaching maturity within a year. This has been enticing for some farmers as ‘in recent years there have been reports of farmers attempting to grow "isa" or "palisi" [ignoble] cultivars in Hawaii, and of imports of dried “tudei” kava into Fiji for further re-exporting’. The exportation of kava in Vanuatu is highly regulated with legislation deeming high quality noble kava as the only kava allowed to be exported.