Kava: The Tradition of Bilo Cups

kava in bilo
Picture of Kavahana

One of the more beautiful elements of kava culture in modern times is the respect that many drinkers still maintain for the traditional roots and rituals of the tea. In the Western world of kava drinking, flavors are more decadent, and kava bars are more in line with lounges, but the heart of kava culture remains.

The bilo, a carved half-coconut shell cup, is part of the tradition still alive today in the Pacific islands and here in the United States. 

What is kava?

Kava is a tea brewed from the dried and ground root of the kava plant. Native to the islands of Polynesia, native peoples drank kava during ceremonies, social events, and celebrations. 

The ground root, brewed into a tea, interacts with kavalactone receptors in our brain. This produces feelings of relaxation, happiness, and focus, but without the impairments we feel with alcohol. Gaining popularity with people wishing to reduce or stop their alcohol consumption, stressed people across the country are discovering kava can help them to relax from their overstuffed schedules and minds. 

What is a bilo?

A bilo is a half coconut shell that acts as a cup for drinking kava. Kava is traditionally brewed in larger bowls and then scooped into small bilos for drinking. Traditional and ancient, drinking kava from a shell cup allows us to enjoy it in its purest form. 

traditional kava tea
traditional kava shutterstock

Kava began with a community focus

Kava was traditionally drunk in a group setting within a community hut. Villagers would pass kava around for the group to drink in a bilo. The first to drink would be offered to the chief and continue down the social hierarchy to include everybody.

Many people still love to keep this connection with the original culture of kava. When making kava at home, many people continue to use the coconut shell as a cup and many kava bars will provide an individual bilo to drink from. 

Drinking from the bilo connects your kava experience to those of generations passed, providing a more authentic experience and creating a ritual for your kava tea. For many people, engaging in the traditional rituals of kava creates feelings of connection and shared humanity.

You can try the experience at kava bars

At Kavahana, the first kava-only bar in Los Angeles, we love enriching people’s lives by creating delicious 100% natural kava teas that promote the traditional and community rituals of kava. Sourcing our kava from Vanuatu and Fiji for the highest quality, we believe in keeping the pure traditions of kava alive. 

Kava produces feelings of happiness, and increased sociability, helping people to overcome feelings of social shyness through reduced stress. We are excited to bring the kava experience to kava fans and curious people in Southern California. 

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Kava: The Tradition of Bilo Cups

kava in bilo


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