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Romancing the Smoke: How to prepare and pack your Tangiers

If you’re just tuning in to Romancing The Smoke, this is a blog following my journey to becoming a hookah know-it-all. If you’re also a beginner, or a pro who wants to offer some advice, then I hope you’ll follow along! Please keep in mind that there are many ways to acclimate and pack Tangiers, we encourage you to share your method without a negative attitude about how others do it.

This is part two of a two part series, and hopefully it will be valuable to the next generation of nervous Tangiers beginners! Now that you have learned about the different types of Tangiers, as well as their varying difficulty level, hopefully you've chosen your flavor and are ready to prepare your Tangiers shisha. These rules are going to generally apply to Noir, Birquq and F-Line, since Lucid is fairly self-adjusting. Looking for extremely detailed instructions? Our Master Shisha Mixes recipe book comes with a complete, detailed, step-by-step guide to every method of Tangiers preparation, not to mention over 1,500 shisha mixes to keep your hookah sessions interesting. But first, let's go over the basics:

1) Your Tangiers tobacco will show up in a cellophane wrapper that is vacuum packed, and has a large colorful factsheet wrapped around it. The current words from Eric, the creator, is to start off by squishing the bag in your hands, kneading around the shisha for about 3-4 minutes to try and get it to reabsorb what juices have leeched out of the tobacco. You then open it, empty it into a wide, shallow container (like a tupperware dish) and fluff it with a fork. Even if it smells good, it is suggested that you leave it out, open, and exposed to the air for at least four hours, giving it a good stir every hour or so. The reason for doing this is because Tangiers is very sensitive to humidity, and needs to adjust to the surroundings. If it smells like soy sauce, barbeque sauce, rubber or sulfur, it needs more acclimation time. One method that I've heard is to let it acclimate in the open air for 4 hours, and store it sealed air tight for 20 hours. When it smells like the flavor that it's intended to taste like, then it's ready!

** It's important to perform this acclimation process wherever you plan on smoking. If you air it out in your kitchen, but smoke in your basement, the difference in humidity might be enough to mess up all of the work that you put in. **

2) The officially recommended bowl in this case is a Tangiers Phunnel Bowl. This prevents the juices from leaking down the stem, as it is a very wet shisha. If you can't get an authentic one, then a standard Phunnel bowl is a fine substitute. Who better to describe the proper loading method than the creator himself? Watch Eric from Tangiers walk you through the packing process in the below video.

3) Here's a brief overview if you're not into videos. Keep in mind, there are various packing methods, this is the most common: pack the tobacco tightly (about as tight as it was in its original packaging) up to the inner spire, right below the outer rim. Just make sure you don't underpack it, which is a common Tangiers mistake.

4) The Foil Test - Place a piece of foil on the bowl and press firmly with the palm of your hand. What you are shooting for is a depression in the foil that is barely below the rim. This will ensure that the tobacco has just enough breathing room, while it is packed tightly enough. Lift that foil off, you don't actually want it laying on the tobacco when you cover your bowl.

5) Get your foil extra taut over the top of the bowl, and poke a fair amount of holes that are slightly larger than holes you would poke for standard shisha - this can be done with an oyster fork if you have one handy. The necessity of the hole size is due to the increased heat sensitivity. Tangiers is a heat-sensitive tobacco, so try to use a low heat coal (natural coals are preferable) for easier heat management. I've seen some suggestions saying to cut your coals in half, and use 3-4 halved coals so that there is a lower heat that covers more surface area. Start the coals out on the edge; you can then move them in slightly as they die down in size. If it tastes like burning, you packed too much or are using too much heat. If it tastes harsh or rubbery, you packed too light and aren't using enough heat.

Hopefully this helps to answer some questions about the Tangiers basics. There are as many ways to do this as there are flavors to try, hopefully this is a helpful beginners guide until you can find the best method for you. Oh, and here are the top 10 Tangiers flavors if you need help picking one! Have something to add? We look forward to your helpful comments:) Until next time, happy smoking! -Katie

To see tutorial videos on this subject, and others, check out our How-To Playlist on YouTube!

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Comments (13) -

  • so if I acclimate it in my room means it will differ f I smoke it outdoors?
    • From everything I've read, the answer to that would be 'yes'. Especially if there is any significant weather (rain, snow, humidity). I'll do some research about that, see what others have to say about smoking outside, and I'll let you know!
  • eric has actually change his packing technique since the one he used in the video .
    • That's fine, this method is still a useful one.
  • Let it sit longer than you think. It took almost 5 days for my schnoberry to be ready. Smoke it to early and it WILL be terrible
    • Good advice, Demetri!
  • Tangiers its a low-heat tobacco? No way. I always use 3 pieces of coco coals and the windcover all session... You really need lots of heat.
    • You're right, Heron. Heat-sensitive was what I was trying to say. But it is low-heat in the sense that you can't leave very hot burning coals (like some quick-lights) in one place for long at all. Tangiers is very sensitive and can burn easily. While it does need to be well heated, the heat must be even and in fairly constant motion.
  • I find tangiers really requires diligent heat management. 3 nats (I prefer coconaras) rotated a quarter turn every 10 minutes or so, or 2 nats with a wind cover rotated every 15, work the best for me.  Heat management can make a great acclimated tobacco still taste harsh and burnt if not handled correctly.

    Tangiers is tricky to master but may quickly become your go-to shisha brand! It produces the best clouds with the best flavors. Happy smoking!
    • Thanks so much, Andrew! This shisha can be very daunting for first timers, but encouragement from some pros definitely helps.
  • If you're new to tangiers, it's definatly a good idea to get Lucid. It takes much much less time to be acclimated (maybe 2-3 hours) and it is easier to manage the heat. Once you get a grasp of Luci, give noir a shot!
  • Here's a technique I use if the bowl gets too hot:

    I put a metal screen on top of the foil, then my coal, then a windscreen over that. I know it sounds crazy, but whenever I have issues with too much heat, this method works like a charm. The screen provides just enough buffer so the shisha doesn't burn. Then as the smoke thins over time, I remove the screen and put the coal directly on the foil.

    +1 to Eric's video. I watched it like a dozen times before I tried Tangiers. Excellent starting point for Tangiers rookies.