Development of shisha tobacco

From Tömbeki to Nakhla

Shisha today is smoked with flavored fruity tobacco.
That was'nt always so: The original form of hookah tobacco was the Tömbeki , which consists of whole tobacco leaves. He was not as wet as today used tobacco, since it was moistened only by the morning dew. The tobacco was put on the ground overnight so that it was damp in the morning. The smoke result depended mainly on the proper moisture of the tobacco leaves. The tobacco used grew mostly in steppe areas and was very spicy.


The tobacco used today was first created in the 19th century in Egypt . Since tobacco was a rare commodity, the simple peasants and laborers could not afford it. However, since they also wanted to be in the luxury reserved at that time to the rulers and other rich people, they tried to find a way to use as little tobacco as possible and still to produce a lot of smoke.

For this purpose, the tobacco was moistened with a honey-like liquid , similar to today's molasses.
This type of tobacco was finally made in 1917 by the Egyptian company Nakhla made industrially for the first time. The still available tobacco called "Nakhla Zaghoul" is based on a traditional Egyptian recipe from that time.
The classic Tömbeki tobacco is very rare to find, for example, in Arab nomadic peoples or in the traditional coffee houses, where nowadays mostly the modern flavored tobacco is used.

Flavored tobacco - just a coincidence product?

Later, they began adding aromas to the moisturizer, letting the tobacco taste for fruit or other things.
Legend has it that the flavored tobacco was invented by accident: An Egyptian sat at supper and was eating his dessert, which was a pastry filled with syrup. He was spilling and the syrup dripped onto the burning water pipe standing next to him. The following He was so enthusiastic about his taste that he came up with the idea of flavoring the tobacco.

This text is a translation of an excerpt from the book "The Waterpipe - Tradition and Youth Culture" by Felix B.