Tuba (Falubwa)

In the Outer Island of Yap the sap of coconut trees is tapped, and once fermented, it is called “tuba”, or “falubwa. The stems of sprouting pods are shaved and the juice collected twice daily. The hollowed out shell where the tuba is collected is never cleaned out, so there remains a thick paste at the bottom which fuels fermentation. Most men cut, or have trees of their own that other men (or their sons) cut for them. The alcohol content of most tuba is close to wine.

Some hachimem, or unfermented sweet tuba, is collected for women and children to drink. If tuba is left for several days it turns in to vinegar (mulgil) which can also be used for cooking. Another variety, luuch is much sweeter, and is produced when sweet tuba is boiled down into a sugary syrup.

Each island produces tuba with a subtly distinctive taste and potency. The variance is due to differences in water table level, moisture in the soil, and tree exposure to wind, and these factors also mean that tuba from the same tree can change in taste with the weather. Some Western accounts speak of Tuba as “Coconut Toddy.”