Different Types of Shisha: A Tastemaker’s Guide
When it comes to choosing the best shisha, there are a few characteristics that come into play, and to be fair many of them are subjective preferences, but they offer a semi-formal structure to guide you while you’re trying and evaluating the various shisha brands. The characteristics that determine what level of quality shisha is are based on the type of tobacco used, the cut of the tobacco itself, the ingredients like glycerin or honey that’s used to make the shisha sweeter and allow for it to burn for a longer time period. The varying quality of each of these things ultimately contributes to the quality of the shisha, depending on what you personally like of course.
- Cut: Shisha is prepared in different ways and different cuts. The cut refers to the thickness of the individual strands of tobacco leaf. Some are super fine almost like a powder, which are usually our dokha implemented brands. The thicker cut allows for less shisha but a longer burn, while the finer cuts allow you to pack in shisha like crazy but it burns a little bit quicker.
- Ingredients: When ingredients are referenced, this usually refers to the liquid that the shisha is actually soaked in. This includes vegetable glycerin, honey, ad various other sweetness and flavorings used to slow down the burn and allow the shisha to carry an extra layer of flavor.
- Tobacco Type: Most shisha blends go for either a dark or blonde tobacco. The maker usually holding a deeper, richer flavor, while the blonde blends are usually smoother and a little less abrasive than the nicotine heavy dark blends. Dokha, which is mentioned in a couple blends below, is a darker, ancient shisha from the Middle East that possesses a very high nicotine content due to its selective harvesting.
- Country of Origin: So with he country of origin category there’s quite a bit of discussion regarding the actual differences in the shisha between countries, but there are quite a few countries that shisha can hail from. Most of the best, classic shisha is from the Middle East simply because they’re pretty much the hookah originators. You’ll see UAE, Jordan, Morocco, Russia, and even since the 90’s there are actually a few American shisha brands that actually stand up to their Middle Eastern counterparts.
Trifecta: Trifecta is manufactured in both dark and blonde lines, meaning that the tobacco used is both of a bold and mellow variety. While I have personal experience with the dark line as a smooth, heady blend, the blonde tobacco is much smoother and allows the flavor of the shisha to carry throughout the session. There are 25 distinct flavors available, all of which have been tested for quality and crafted after years of experience. This is one of the most popular shisha brands for aficionados due to the elaborate flavor profile present among their 25 flavors and the delicate nature of the cut. Another great thing about this shisha blend is that all of the flavorings are totally natural, featuring a mix of honey, molasses, and vegetable glycerin which not only flavors the shisha but allows it to burn slowly and evenly.
Al- Waha: Al Waha has been around since 1993 and comes from the Middle Eastern country of Jordan. The blonde tobacco blend is the most widely stocked and distributed version of this shisha and for good reason! Al Waha provides flavor, quality, and elegant delivery that’s only complimented by its ability to remain smokeable for long bouts and sessions while also maintaining its flavor. The notes of flavor remain without overwhelming, too which is a great characteristic for a shisha tobacco. The tobacco used here is American Virginia tobacco that allows the mellowness of the blend to remain such. Al Waha is one of those brands where you can’t really go wrong with it from beginners all the way to the experienced hookah master, this shisha is one of the top brands across the board.
Starbuzz: Starbuzz is one of the most sold brands of shisha tobacco for hookahs. It’s a solid brand for a few pretty simple reasons: the flavor is juicy and bursting with flavor without being too strong or overwhelming for beginners. Balance is the name if the game with Starbuzz shisha and that’s what its fans are looking for. Nothing too juicy, well profiled flavor, long lasting smoke, and they get all fo the above with Starbuzz.
Malaki: A modern take on ancient traditions, Malaki offers a superior shisha blend packed with bold flavor. Whether you're new to Hookah or an avid smoker, the Malaki Molasses Shisha uses only the highest quality ingredients. Each tobacco leaf is hand-stripped and slow-roasted for the smoothest, most flavorful hits. Packed in rich molasses, each shisha pack offers you a more consistent pleasurable experience. Malaki is one of the best brands outside the U.A.E. that produced premium Hookah Shisha. From the brand's design to using only the highest-grade ingredients to developing sophisticated packaging, Malaki is the epitome of class and elegance.
Nirvana Super Shisha: Nirvana Super Shisha and Nirvana Eclipse Shisha are both paired with an ancient Middle Eastern tobacco called dokha. Dokha is known to be a dark, densely flavored tobacco that pacs a hell of a buzz. Honestly, in this strain I didn’t feel or taste the Dokha as strongly as I had in the past, but that’s not to say the Eclipse and Super Shisha varieties of this brand don’t have a kick because they definitely do. Dokha is a traditional blend and adding it to shisha usually provides a significantly higher nicotine buzz because the Dokha isn’t simply darker and richer, but it’s actually specifically crafted from tobacco leaf tips which carry the highest nicotine percentage in the entire plant.
Mazaya: Mazaya shisha Is a rather popular brand in the Middle East, though it’s still flying under the radar here in the States. Mazaya heavily washes the tobacco so there’s very little buzzz that comes with it, though it handles heat and long sessions really well. The medical grade glycerin and honey that the tobacco is soaked in and carry the heavy flavors past the hour mark in longer sessions. Although this isn’t an enthusiasts FAVORITE shisha, it’s definitely a quality brand crafted from high quality ingredients and handled carefully by the manufacturer each step of the way. Mazaya is a great starter shisha because it’s so easy on the throat and smooth to smoke for hours. Beginner smokers will probably feel the little bit of buzz that Mazaya carries with it.
Adaly: Adaly tobacco is a Virginia blonde blend that features a fine cut so the smoker can pack their desired amount of shisha into the bowl and burn it for hours. Adaly is another connoisseur brand that caters to consumers that know what they’re looking for. The cloud density present within the adaly shisha brands allow for the user to enjoy a complete and naturally based flavor profile that’s of the highest quality level. As well, this shisha brand will smoke for a good amount of time without tasting like burned tobacco or charcoal, of course that’s if you know what you’re doing and how to pack the bowl itself. This comes with time so Adaly, while being of some of the highest quality shisha we offer, may not be for the novice smoker, as with the Nirvana shisha that holds a decent amount of dokha.
Al Fakher: The king of the double apple flavor, Al Fakher has been around since the 1970’s and hails form the United Arab Emirates. It’s a well known brand that trumps a lot of others by reputation alone. If you ask any hookah old head they’re going to cite Al Fakher as a premium hookah brand. They’re known for their flavor and their smokebability and it’s been a staple in the hookah community for a long time.