Drinking kava in Tonga is compared to men in the United States drinking beer at a bar. It is true that many Western habits and traditions have filtrated the Tongan Islands, including the drinking of alcohol. However, kava still holds higher importance within the Tongan culture, especially in the way it is prepared.

Kava is harvested from the root of the Tongan plant called piper methysticum, which is a relative of the pepper plant. In ancient times, the kava root was cut into small pieces and chewed. The juice the chewing of the root created was spit into a bowl. The spit was consumed by Tongans to receive its calming effects.

Source: Root of Happiness