Brothers in Arms
Although dokha and hookah tobacco both compliment each other and share their roots in Arabic culture, they are both vastly different and unique products. It is becoming more common to see them in similar settings, particularly in shisha lounge establishments and smoke shops, and
specialty tobacconists around the world. Shisha has risen quicker in
popularity in the last decade but dokha is beginning to catch up.
Shisha Tobacco and Hookah
Shisha or nargile (hookah) tobacco is typically made from bright-leaf
or Virginia tobacco with a mild flavor and a naturally low nicotine
content. These leaves are sun cured or flue cured using heat, fermented,
then put through an aging process. What makes shisha more of a unique
tobacco product is the washing process it undergoes. Washing the leaves
removes the tobacco flavor and dramatically reduces nicotine content to
around .05% or less. The tar content is reduced so low companies can
legally put “no tar” on the label. The leaves and cut into strips then
mixed with honey or molasses and flavored syrup. This wet, sticky mix is
the popular hookah tobacco most are familiar with today. Some brands of
shisha such as Al-Nakhla and Tangiers do not wash their leaves,
retaining a lot of the nicotine content. A rarer form of shisha exists
called tombac. This tradition hookah tobacco is also unwashed,
unflavored and has a much drier moisture content. This tobacco gives a
much more of a kick due to the higher nicotine content of the Shirazi or
Isfahani strain used in production.
When tobacco first arrived in the Middle East it was mostly reserved
for the upper class and royalty. This is not surprising given the rarity
and cost of the tobacco itself as well as the maintenance of the water
pipe. No one is entirely sure about the origin of the hookah and has
almost become a myth within hookah culture. Arguably the most popular
myth was that it was created by a doctor as a “healthier” way of smoking
due to the low burning temperature and water cooling the smoke. When
tobacco started to become more prevalent in the region, dokha was
created as a cheap and convenient way for the masses to enjoy tobacco.
Dokha is a unique, high nicotine variety of tobacco that was thought to
originate from one of the original Orinoco strains. Through selective
breeding over generation, dokha strains have adapted to the climate and
light cycles of the Persian Gulf. Unlike shisha, dokha is completely
unprocessed and doesn’t go through a fermentation process. Plants are
air-dried in desert conditions for a much shorter amount of time,
ground, and blended to strength and taste. This gives dokha its unique
appearance and taste. Dokha is grown mostly on the Arabian Peninsula in
the United Arab Emirates and Oman. Although some of this tobacco is
grown in Souther Iran and other small pockets in the Middle East. Just a
hit or two are smoked out of small, thin pipe called a medwakh. The
sensation is described as a “laf raas” mean head spin in Arabic due to
dokha’s high nicotine content.
Dokha was virtually unknown in the Western world until the late 1990’s. Around that time hookah lounges/bars started to pop up across the United States. Individuals from the Middle East that opened these establishment would bring back personal stocks of dokha when visiting overseas since it wasn’t officially imported into the county. Around this same time dokha was seen in the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe as well. Students from the Gulf Emirates would attend universities around London, introducing dokha to the UK.
Super Shisha is born
Because of shisha’s low nicotine content, It is common to see dokha in
the same setting for individuals looking for more more of a kick than
shisha can offer. Mixing dokha and shisha tobacco together creates a
something beautiful. A pinch is mixed with a bowl of shisha to create
“super shisha”. The dokha doesn’t affect the taste or the strength of
the hookah but will up the nicotine content creating a hookah with a
buzz. Super shisha is a relatively new concept but is starting to take
off in the hookah scene as an add-on or a shisha enhancer, becoming
particularly popular in the United States, Russia, and Brasil. Our Sultani
blend is finely ground specifically for mixing with Shisha.
Whether you prefer smooth or strong, feeling relaxed or seek a heavy
buzz, There’s an Arabic tobacco meant for you. Producers overseas take a
lot of pride in their products and it can be seen in the results. Both
dokha and shisha tobacco are great companions and are seeing a steady
increase in popularity across the globe, particularly in the West.
Shisha lounges, smoke shops, and specialty tobacco stores are finding
more of a niche in specialty tobaccos including dokha. One shouldn’t
pass up on the opportunity to try this special tobacco fit for a king.