What Shisha Tobacco Do Hookah Lounges Use?
It's one of the most common questions we get asked, especially by hookah smokers that are new to owning their own home hookah or those that have only been to lounges and are wanting to know exactly what is used in their favorite smoke spot before investing in their own setup.
The shisha tobacco that you use in your sessions is by far the single most important factor in determining what your hookah sessions taste like, the feeling you get during the session, and the quality of the smoke that your hookah puts out. For this reason, many people tend to stick with what is "familiar" from their time spent at their local hookah bar, at least in the beginning.
This question isn't always an easy one to answer however, as there are dozens (if not hundreds) of shisha brands and countless shisha flavors that exist in this world, and each hookah lounge will typically have a different menu or product offering than the last.
Despite this, we'll be using our extensive experience to provide you with some of the most common shisha brands and flavors that we have found available in hookah lounges and shisha cafes.
So what shisha do hookah lounges use?
Al Fakher Shisha Tobacco
Despite the VAST amount of brands and flavors that have popped up in the shisha market, there is one brand that inarguably stands out to us as a main staple of hookah lounges: Al Fakher Shisha Tobacco! Chances are if you've ever smoked hookah really in any capacity, you've probably smoked Al Fakher at least once, even if you didn't know it at the time. It really is that widespread and common of a brand!
Pretty much every single lounge we’ve ever been to, with one or two rare exceptions, offers at least some flavor variety of Al Fakher (sometimes shortened as “AF”) on their menu.
This particular brand of traditional tobacco is manufactured in the United Arab Emirates and is one of the longest standing, most famous brands of shisha in the world. They focus on creating versatile, “single note” flavors such as double apple, lemon, blueberry, orange, mint, and many many more.
Al Fakher is extremely versatile and easy to prepare in any hookah bowl on the market, while also providing consistent flavor and thick clouds of smoke. The simple, single note selection of flavors allows smokers to easily “mix and match”, creating an almost limitless amount of different blend possibilities, which is ideal when catering to lounge smokers.
For these reasons alone, it’s easy to see why Al Fakher became one of the most commonly used tobacco brands in hookah lounges.
Starbuzz Shisha Tobacco
Since hookahs and hookah smoking first gained popularity in the Middle East region of the world, it stands to reason that many of the longest standing shisha brands are made in that same region, however with the rising popularity of hookah and shisha in Europe and the Americas, a number of more modern shisha brands have made a name for themselves in the hookah market.
Starbuzz Tobacco is one such brand! They have been a powerhouse in the shisha industry since 2005 and have cemented themselves as one of the more well-known line of shisha flavors. At the time of their launch most available flavors were "single note" shisha with simple flavor names, Starbuzz became famous by creating modern blends of flavor that are often coupled with unique names that instantly draw your eye.
Starbuzz has since expanded their collection to include different lines such as Starbuzz Bold, Starbuzz Vintage, and Starbuzz Serpent. In the scope of our experience, many hookah lounges will typically offer at least a limited selection of Starbuzz flavors (usually their most well known top sellers at the very least), although there are some places that will offer the entire product line (such as the Starbuzz Hookah Lounge in Las Vegas, Nevada).
Long standing customer favorites such as “Blue Mist” and “Pirate’s Cave” are common flavor names to see show up on a hookah lounge menu, as well as their "Melon Blue" and "Safari Melon Dew" flavors. Many of Starbuzz's "pre-mixed" blends offer hookah smokers an added depth and complexity to their sessions without having to ask the lounge wait staff to mix several different single note shisha flavors in one bowl.
There are even some hookah bars that charge extra to mix flavors, so choosing one of Starbuzz's blends at the lounge (instead of mixing several flavors) may end up saving you money as well!
Fumari Shisha Tobacco
Fumari Tobacco is another modern shisha brand that can be found in hookah lounges! They officially released their first batch of flavors back in 2002 and over the years Fumari has established themselves as a popular, household name in shisha. Similar to Starbuzz, Fumari offers a wide variety of modern flavor blends in their selection, many of which are inspired from popular candies or beverages.
Fumari shisha tends to be juicier than average and this extra juice content can yield some extremely thick clouds alongside very potent, powerful tasting smoke sessions. Being able to blow out seriously thick clouds of smoke while also experiencing strong, flavorful sessions made Fumari a popular brand of shisha, especially during the age of social media where many people like to post selfies of themselves smoking. Thicker smoke makes for a better Instagram pic, am I right?
When a hookah lounge does offer Fumari, they will typically offer their "big hitters" on the menu such as W.G.B (a white candy bear type flavor), R.G.B. (a red candy bear type flavor), and Spiced Chai (a warm chai tea shisha) to name a few.
Tobacco-Free Herbal Shisha
The last major shisha we'll be addressing in this blog is herbal shisha! Herbal shisha encompasses shisha brands that make their flavors using a tobacco-free alternative, such as pulped up sugar cane or cured fruit slices, as a "base" for the flavoring.
Many herbal brands are designed in such a way that they can be prepared and smoked exactly like "regular" shisha tobacco, providing flavor and smoke, just without tobacco or a nicotine buzz!
Generally speaking, herbal shisha brands are typically much more uncommon than some of the other shisha tobacco brands we've covered in this blog, especially in a lounge setting, however depending on your locale and respective tobacco laws, herbal flavors can be found in some hookah lounges as a fantastic alternative to tobacco.
Whether you still want to smoke hookah but aren't the biggest fan of smoking tobacco, or live somewhere where it may be legally questionable for a lounge to serve tobacco, herbal shisha options allow you to take part in the shisha smoking experience.
The two most common herbal shisha brands are Hydro Herbal and Fantasia Herbal, however Urth Tree Fruit Molasses is a relatively new contender to the herbal market that has been gaining popularity as well. All of these brands offer their own unique flavor line-ups and provide a wide selection of tobacco-free flavors. If you're interested in smoking herbal shisha at your local lounge, we encourage you to ask the lounge staff to find out what options they have available!
While the brands we've talked about above are by far the most common brands you can find in a hookah bar setting, they are not the *only* brands you might find in a lounge. This brings us to our honorable mentions section of this blog!
- Social Smoke Shisha Tobacco - Made in the USA using "blonde" tobacco leaves and one of the most popular brands in Europe, Social Smoke offers a variety of sweet, low-nicotine flavor blends, such as Watermelon Chill, Arctic Lemon, and Baja Blue, that can sometimes make an appearance on a hookah lounge menu.
- Trifecta Shisha Tobacco - A small batch producer of shisha tobacco, Trifecta has become well loved amongst hookah veterans due to their high quality flavors such as Peppermint Shake, Twice the Ice, and Moro Zest to name a few. Trifecta offers both a low nicotine "blonde leaf" line as well as a higher nicotine "dark leaf" line, and may occasionally be found amongst available brands at a hookah lounge.
- Dark Leaf Shisha Tobacco - Often referred to as just "dark leaf," this type of hookah tobacco is made using a more robust tobacco leaf and will contain a much higher level of nicotine than your average shisha. Most often smoked by hookah veterans, dark leaf shisha provides a much stronger nicotine head buzz that may be too much for the average lounge smoker to handle. For this reason, it is rare to find dark leaf blends in a hookah lounge, however there are still lounges who offer this type of tobacco for their more "seasoned" clientele. Dark leaf brands include Tangiers Tobacco, Azure Black Tobacco, Starbuzz Vintage and Starbuzz Serpent shisha, as well as the Trifecta Dark blends.
- "House Mixes" - These have less to do with specific shisha brands and more to do with custom flavor combinations! Many hookah bars offer their customers different flavor blends that the lounge employees themselves have created using the shop's available flavor selection. Taking on possible titles such as candy or cereal names, many of these house blends are completely unique to the lounge that offers them and thus are nearly impossible to recreate without insider knowledge. If you order a custom house mix at your local lounge and wish to replicate it, we recommend asking one of the lounge employees what flavors they use in the mix in order to recreate the blend you're looking for.
What Brands Have You Seen?
That should just about cover it folks! Of course, every hookah lounge is different and may offer shisha brands that we didn't talk about today, however the shisha brands listed above are certainly some of the most popular ones that hookah lounge owners gravitate towards. Hopefully this blog will provide a great starting point for finding out which brands to look for when stocking up on your personal shisha supply, or knowing what to ask for the next time you are in a hookah bar!
Be sure to let us know what types of shisha brands you've experienced at your visited lounges in the comments below.
If you have any questions in regards to what we've covered today, feel free to contact our friendly customer service team and we'll be happy to assist you!