Jono's Hookah Blog: Part 1 - Introduction and Basic Hookah FAQ
What's up all my hookah crazy friends! Allow me to introduce myself to those who don't know me. My friends call me Jono. I've been with hookah-shisha.com for almost two years now. I'm in the band Mother's Anthem for those of you interested in checking it out. At my house, there are two constants: Hookah and vinyls. When the record stops, we flip it. When the hookah bowl ends, we start up another. When it comes to shisha, we try to come up with new mixes whenever we can. In these blogs, I will talk about flavors I've tried, hookahs I've smoked, and basically share my hookah smoking experiences with you. Also, since this is an open forum, I want to invite you to share with me your experiences. Maybe I've tried something and had a bad experience, and you have a suggestion as to how to make it a better one (example: I didn't like Al Fakher's Golden Grape, but maybe I should've used Merlot with orange slices in the base, stuff like that). Maybe you have ideas on shisha mixes I haven't tried yet. Believe me; I want to hear from you. I love finding new blends to smoke. So please, use this forum as it's intended.... to share information and make each other's hookah smoking experiences even better! Hookahs I own: 1. The first hookah I ever used was a Gunmetal Black Stratus (3 hose) Hookah. It was one that I received free for working at hookah-shisha.com (which by the way, thank you guys!) 2. Black and silver Mya Bambino Hookah 3. Blue Flower Pot Hookah 4. "Gyroglyph" (I Frankensteined a blue Mya Gyro base with a silver 3-hose Glyph shaft - a beautiful hookah if I do say so myself) 5. Golden Odyssey, which I believe is discontinued 6. Blue Old School Rotator Hookah 7. Abyss (1 hose) Hookah 8. Blue Lunar (1 hose) Hookah 9. Blue Mya QT Hookah 10. Black Ebony (2 hose) Hookah Let's begin!
Q: What kind of Hookah should I get?
In my personal opinion, if you want to have the best smoking experience, order an Old School Rotator Hookah. This particular hookah stands alone in the ranks of the best hookahs ever built. 1) They're built solid. The rotating base is stable, weighted at the bottom so it's less likely to be knocked over. One other great feature about the Old School is that its tray and base are wider than the glass base, so if some idiot (trust me, we've all smoked with "that guy") knocks it over, the glass won't break. 2) The shaft is very durable and thick. The tray is made into the shaft. Most other hookahs come with trays that have to snap into place or simply sit on top of the shaft. Often, these snap-on trays don't fit securely and sometimes fall over when you place the tongs on them. This can be messy to clean up. Also, I should mention that some hookahs have shafts that have hose adapters welded on poorly. When you unscrew your base from your shaft to freshen the water, hose adapters have been known to break off. The Old School is made so that you won't have to worry about it breaking on you. 3) The hose adapter chambers (the holes channeling the smoke from the base to the hose) are wider than on any other hookah. If there's one comment I always get from new hookah smokers, it's that they love how smoking hookah is so easy. They often say it's like "breathing". It's so smooth. Well, the thickness of the Old School smoke chambers is the reason for this. The smaller the holes, the harder it's going to be to pull air through the hose. It's mere science. If you're not able to pull much air through, you're not pulling the proper amount of heat through the bowl, down to the base, and through the hose, causing the shisha to taste less desirable. But, not with the Old School. 4) The glass is colored beautifully but transparent enough to gauge how much water/ice to put in. Other hookahs sometimes come with bases that you can't even see the water level. So it becomes a guessing game. Old School, problem solved. 5) The rotating base rotates so smoothly. You never have to worry about the bowl titling or the coals shifting as you're passing the hose to your friends. 6) The Old School is priced conservatively. Actually, for what you're getting, it's underpriced. Q: What kind of bowl should I use? A: Well that depends. Are you smoking alone or with friends? How much time do you have per smoking session? If you're like me, you want to enjoy the hookah bowl for a while when you smoke and you will probably have friends nearby that want to smoke too. So if you're smoking with a lot of friends and have some time to enjoy yourselves, you might want to pick up a Mya Jumbo Ceramic Bowl. Keep in mind, these bowls last a long time and you'll end up smoking one flavor for a long while. I tend to want to smoke something new after an hour or hour and a half. If I change flavors midway through the Jumbo bowl, I've wasted a lot of tobacco. Not to say you can't repackage the unused portion, I just never do. If you want to smoke by yourself, I recommend the smaller Syrian hookah bowls or Egyptian hookah bowls. It's hard for me to sell you on one bowl versus another. I've found that for most situations, the egyptian bowls, ceramic bowls, and Mod hookah bowls all work great for your needs. I wouldn't say there is one bowl better than the other as far as efficiency is concerned. Now I can say that I've had egyptian bowls and mod bowls break at times. But they weren't being handled properly at the time either, so.... one thing I look for when I'm looking for the right bowl is whether or not the holes in the bowl are spaced evenly and if they're big enough. Mod Bowls and Ceramics are very consistent in quality, while the Egyptian bowls tend to be spaced and sized differently from bowl to bowl. If you have enough money, I'd try out several different styles and see which ones work best for you. Q: What hoses do you recommend? A: Nammor Hookah Hoses. They're washable and their airway is wide enough to allow for a very natural breathing experience. Hands down, the best hose. If you want something that provides a very similar experience and are ok with a less than flashy product, try the Washable Hookah Hoses. They're great too! Q: What brands of Shisha Tobacco should I smoke? A: Honestly, I like certain flavors from various makers. I believe that for the thickest smoke, you'll find none better than Starbuzz. If you're looking for the most consistently accurate flavors, give Romman flavors a try. However, there are certain flavors that are just better from certain companies than others. (I'll go into a more detailed product-by-product review later though). Now if you're concerned about smoking "tobacco," I recommend trying the Hydro Herbal line. It is tobacco free, nicotine free and tastes UNREAL! Truly a great product, and supposedly, less hazardous. But that debate won't be entertained here. Q: What coals should I use? A: Coco-Nara Hookah Coals. They're made from coconut shells and vegetables, 100% natural. They allow you to taste the shisha naturally without the chemical taste brought on by some coals. They take a little while to heat up, but once they're going, they last longer than other coals and leave less ash behind. If you're looking to light up some coals quickly, try the Golden Quick-Lighting Hookah Coals. For larger bowls I tend to use two 33mm's on opposing ends of the bowl. For smaller bowls, I'd use one 40mm, broken in half, setting the pieces on opposite ends of the bowl. Editor's note: Stay tuned for part 2: Jono reviews all the Romman flavors!