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The Hookah...Quite a Mystical Smoke

For centuries, men in the Middle East have gathered around hookahs to puff fruit-scented smoke, talk and pass the time.....If you haven't noticed lately, smoking Hookahs has been increasingly gaining in popularity over the last few years. So what's up with all this Hookah stuff anyway? To start, a Hookah is a traditional Middle Eastern smoking pipe that filters the smoke through water to cool and mellow the taste. A Hookah pipe consists of a ceramic bowl holding tobacco heated by a coal above that's drawn down a metal stem through water in a glass base to the smoker, drawing on a decorative hose. If that's too much, to fast, just check out the picture.

People are attracted to Hookah smoking by the delicious flavors Hookah tobacco called Shi-Sha offers and Hookahs smokers are as discerning as any pipe or cigar aficionado around.

Hookah tobacco is different than traditional tobacco in that it's made of honey, molasses, fruit and tobacco and is usually moist to gooey in consistency. It burns very slow delivering a fantastically sweet fragrant taste and aroma. Most Shi-Sha flavors are based on fruit such as strawberry, blueberry, orange, peach, grape, apple and melon, but the variety continues to increase all the time with flavors like vanilla, rum, coffee, pumpkin pie, mint, you name it, the list grows all the time. Many enthusiasts will create new blends by mixing flavors together such as strawberry and vanilla to make a strawberry milkshake or raspberry and lemon to make raspberry lemonade, the possibilities for mixing flavors is endless.

If this sounds like something great to try, like so many others have, there are 3 basics involved, the Hookah pipe, the tobacco and the coals which provide the heat to burn the tobacco.

First the Hookah. All Hookah pipes basically function the same way. The big difference is in the size and the number of hoses a Hookah pipe has, which comes down to personal preference. A small Hookah less than 18 inches tall will deliver a fine but faster and shorter smoke. A medium to larger size Hookah up to about 60 inches will deliver a longer, slower, and smoother smoking experience and is often coveted for its style and aesthetics making it an artistic show piece. A Hookah pipe will have anywhere from 1 to 6 hoses, a 1, 2, or 3 hose being the most common. The number of hoses allows for more people to enjoy smoking from the same Hookah at the same, which is handy when you have a large gathering or small get together, so consider how you plan to use your Hookah and that will help you decide how many hoses are right for you.

The second basic is the Shi-Sha tobacco. As mentioned above there are many flavors and also many brands of tobacco to choose from. This is completely a personal choice based on your preferences for certain flavors. The only way to know for sure is to try different flavors and brands which ends up being half the fun in finding your absolute favorites. I personally like the mango flavor from Fantasia tobacco, it taste great and lasts a long time.

The last basic to smoking Hookah is the charcoal you use to keep the tobacco burning. The charcoals are the heat source by which the tobacco is smoked and are a necessity. Since the tobacco is so wet it needs a constant source of heat for anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour and a lighter is just not practical for the job, so coals are the only way to go. In a nutshell, to use coals you heat one with a lighter or over a stove until it glows hot, much like a barbeque briquette, then place the coal on the screen just above the ceramic bowl holding the tobacco. As far as which coals to choose, it's up to you to decide what works best for you, but there are 2 general types, quick lighting and standard.

Quick lighting coals are easier to get lit, and are usually cheaper but don't burn as long or as clean as standard coals. Standard coals are commonly made from different woods like lemon or olive wood and some from coconut shells. They take longer to get lit than quick light coals but generally burn longer and cleaner.

This is just a brief overview of the art of Hookah smoking, but if you really want to do it right than visit a Tinder Box store that stocks everything Hookah and ask for their help, they will be happy to assist you.

The most important thing to remember is to enjoy, and you definitely will if you give Hookah a try!


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