Kava is a tree that originates from the Pacific Islands, and it’s used to make kava tea—a beverage that has great significance in the region’s various cultures. There is great importance of kava in Tongan culture in particular. Tonga is a country in that region that includes 150 islands. These islands have tropical climates, coral beaches, and almost ancient cultures and customs. With that said, if you’re ready to know more about the cultural significance of a drink in a country where it came from, then read on.
Importance of Kava in Tongan Culture
Kava tea is a drink that inhabitants from many villages in Tonga consume daily. In addition to that, the drink is served at special ceremonies. These ceremonies include but are not limited to the following.
- Coronations of leaders
For the sake of comparison, you could equate kava drinking in Tongan culture to drinking a beer in the United States. However, it is also significant on special occasions, and the preparation of the drink also contributes to its significance.
Also, in many Tongan villages, the men are served kava tea by the women, and the women don’t consume the drink.
Preparation of Kava in Tongan Culture
In Tongan culture, there are specialized women who mix the kava and serve it to other members of the village. This person is known as a tou’a, and she is a member of the village she serves the drink to. The root of the plant is crushed to create a powder. It is then mixed with water. After that, the tou’a uses a porous cloth to strain the mixture and yield a liquid that the men can consume. The leaders of the village get the kava first, and then other members of the village do.
Frequency of Consumption
How frequently Tongan people consume kava tea depends on their location within the country. So, people on the main island drink this tea on Saturday and Wednesday nights. However, people on the outer islands consume it daily.
The Kava Bowl in Tonga
There is a unique kava bowl in Tonga used to consume the drink. This bowl is usually a coconut shell or a wooden bowl. Therefore, the bowls themselves also have cultural significance because of the beverage they carry.
Last Few Words
It’s good to know about the importance of kava in Tongan culture because it helps you understand how much a beverage can mean to people. If you choose to drink kava tea, you now know that there’s a lot of history behind the drink, the way it is prepared, the way it’s served, and the way it’s consumed.
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