There are a lot of questions about Tangiers shisha tobacco floating around on the forums, and I thought it high time to create a series of blog entries, titled Understanding Tangiers.
The Basics: All Tangiers tobaccos come packed in an air-tight bag/pouch, which is then wrapped in an instructional guide with the product label on it (hand-written), and then all contained in another bag. Most Tangiers tobaccos are unwashed and, because of their molasses blend, will need to be acclimated before use. They will also need to be stored in their own container. Tangiers tobaccos all require a different packing method than most modern tobaccos - fluff packing does not work here, or you'll get a very harsh smoke. I will not be going into acclimation or packing in this entry - we'll save that for the next post. For now, just know you can't just pull it out of the pouch and fluff pack it in your favorite Egyptian bowl.
As a quick aside, don't buy Tangiers unless you have a phunnel bowl of some sort. I'd recommend the Alien Mini bowl or a Tangiers Pico/7ico (#8 size) bowl. There are other phunnels on the market, but most are much too large for Tangiers, especially for personal sessions. You can also use Egyptians or Vortex bowls, but I would not recommend using them. I can't say enough good things about the Alien Mini - you can get 45 minutes to an hour out of modern, wetter shisha tobaccos, but, for Tangiers, I've had 3 hour long sessions.
Now, on to the lines:
- Tangiers Noir - Noir comes packed with a yellow label, and is the most known style of Tangiers tobacco. IMO, it is the most successful of their product lines. This has a pretty high nicotine level, and is not recommended for hookah beginners. You can also find the most flavors in this line.
- Tangiers F-Line - I was originally under the impression that this line of tobacco was no longer in production, but that's not true. F-Line comes packed with an orange or red label that specifies "F-Line / Caffeinated" on the label. F-Line, short for "Flat Line," is essentially Noir + Caffeine. While I have not personally tried out F-Line, everything I've heard is this is a line of tobacco that will knock you backwards if you aren't careful or used to high nicotine or caffeine levels. This is not recommended for hookah beginners.
- Tangiers Burley - Burley is the newest of the Tangiers lines of tobacco, and it is the strongest. Burley comes packaged with a purple label that states "Burley Noir / Very Strong" on the packaging. It's an even higher nicotine level than Noir, and really isn't recommended for anyone that has nicotine sensitivity or hasn't smoked Noir for a pretty good amount of time. If you're not used to high nicotine levels, expect to be giving regurgitated offerings to the gods that sit atop the ceramic throne.
- Tangiers Lucid - Lucid, which is technically no longer produced, can still be found online, which is the only reason I list it here. It comes packaged with an orange label, and says "Lucid" on the label. Lucid is a lighter blend, the only line made with washed tobacco, and typically requires less time to acclimate. However, even though it is washed, it's still on par with something like Nakhla when it comes to nicotine. If you're used to smoking Starbuzz and AF and want a little more buzz, or Nakhla doesn't bother you, Lucid is a good line for you, if you can still find it.
- Tangiers Birquq - Birquq (pronounced bir-kook) is another new line from Tangiers. It replaces the Lucid line, but makes some changes to the formula. It comes in a package with a green label, with no other markings. The main difference between Lucid and Birquq is that Birquq is unwashed tobacco. Birquq is said to take less time to acclimate, but I tend to disagree - in my experience, it took longer to acclimate a package of Birquq Horchata than it does with any Noir flavor I've ever had, but I expect that was an odd, one-time occurrence. Birquq is also very temperature sensitive - you're supposed to only use 3/4 of the coals you would normally use for other Tangiers lines for better flavor and a better smoke. In my experience, it's not as buzzy as Noir. I would recommend Birquq for someone that wants to get into Tangiers and might be a little more nicotine sensitive or doesn't want a huge buzz, but expect a little more buzz from this line than from Lucid. I'd recommend getting Birquq over Lucid, primarily because you will not be able to find the Lucid line for much longer.
On Flavors: Every line has their own set of flavors, though some overlap. You'll get a similar flavor out of Birquq Cane Mint as you will from Noir Cane Mint, but they will differ slightly, and the buzz will be different.
Your First Tangiers: If you're trying to decide what line to purchase from, it really depends on what you're used to smoking and how often. If you smoke a couple times a week or less, I'd recommend Birquq. If you smoke a little more often, Noir will give you a good buzz and you should be able to handle it just fine. Before I tried Tangiers, I was smoking a lot of Nakhla, which has a higher level of nicotine than typical modern shisha tobaccos, like Fumari, Fantasia, Starbuzz, AF, etc. Trying Tangiers for the first time did give me a buzz at first, but it went away pretty quickly. If you've never tried Tangiers before, stay away from F-Line and Burley.
My next post will go into depth several methods of acclimating and packing bowls. Until next time, ciao.