I love making things from scratch. I cook constantly, I brew my own beer, I’ve rolled my own cigars and I make my own shisha tobacco once in a while. The process can be very simple or very complicated depending on what you want to make.
Modern Style Shisha Tobacco
The ingredients you will need to make shisha tobacco are fairly simple. Molasses or honey, glycerin and flavorings. Personally I don’t use glycerin but I make more traditional molasses and tobamel.
Stay away from black strap and make sure to buy unsulphured molasses. If using honey don’t buy anything really expensive. The subtle flavors of honey are mostly lost in the process. For glycerin make sure to get plant based which can be bought at health and body stores. For the flavorings I suggest sticking to high quality candy flavorings so you know they are food safe and will taste good.
For the tobacco you can use a light pipe tobacco or cigar tobacco. There are lots of places online that you can order whole leaves or you can get a bag of pipe tobacco or some light cigars to chop up and experiment with. The best option thought is tombac which is just dried tobacco pressed into a brick. It’s another form of middle eastern shisha tobacco but with no flavoring or molasses.
You then need to soak the dried tobacco to re-hydrate it, make if pliable and remove some of the nicotine. The longer you soak it the less flavor it will add to the final product and the more nicotine will be taken out. Modern style tobaccos like Starbuzz wash their tobacco until the water runs clear and no flavor is left. That is why your mango tobacco does not have hints of cigar.
After the tobacco has been washed you can strip out the stems to make it easier to mix and then chop all of the leaves up into the desired texture.
The ratio I use for molasses and honey is 3 to 1. For every 3 grams of tobacco I use 1 gram of molasses or honey. So 300 grams of dried tobacco takes about 100 grams of honey for my tobamel. Sometimes it’s more sometimes it’s less. Mix the honey/molasses, all the flavorings you want to use and about 30g of glycerin per 300 grams of tobacco in a bowl and add the tobacco. Start light with the flavorings. Some of them are super strong. Start with a table spoon, mix it up with wet hands and take a whiff. If it smells good put it in a tuperware container to sit over night.
The next day, if the consistency seems right and it smells good, load up a bowl and smoke it. If it’s dry add some more of the honey or molasses. If you don’t like the flavor add some more until you get it right. It’s all about preference but it’s really as simple as that. From this point we can get into more traditional tobaccos but I think that may be a follow up blog post.