Herbal Shisha: The Wave of the Future

As tobacco prices continue to rise and the list of cities banning smoking increases, hookah enthusiasts and lounge owners alike are seeking alternatives to shisha made from tobacco. And don't forget that with the New Year lurking around the corner, those "I will quit smoking" resolutions loom on the horizon! It's no wonder that the non-tobacco shisha products are quickly gaining a marketshare that few people in the industry expected.

Currently, there are three brands of herbal shisha on the market: Soex , Black Label, and High-Life Smoke. I've tried them all because even though I should be used to tobacco since I smoke cigarettes, something about shisha made with tobacco causes me to have coughing fits every time regardless of brand. A strong desire to avoid coughing while still being able to enjoy hookah prompted me to investigate the herbal products. If you're like me and seeking a tobacco, tar, and nicotine free hookah experience, perhaps this post will help you to make a purchasing decision.


None of the herbal shisha has the name power that Soex does. Made in India by the same company that makes Afzal tobacco molasses, Soex is the industry leader and enjoys immense popularity in Europe where it has a well established fan base. Contrary to urban myth, Soex is not made from sugar beets; its base is sugar cane
bagasse, the pulp left behind after the juice has been extracted.

Soex is my personal favorite of the herbal alternatives. Although moisture levels sometimes vary from one production lot to the next, Soex nails the flavors every time. In addition to the standard fruit choices, Soex makes some fantastic exotic flavors that reflect its Indian roots. Bombay Panmasala, Pan Rasna, Rooh Afza Cool, Cardamom, and Lychee are among those traditional flavors.

If it's thick clouds of smoke and long-lasting flavor that you want, Soex will definitely do the job. I've shared my hookah with plenty of people who had no idea that what they were smoking was not tobacco. They could not tell the difference! The only difference that I note, aside from the appearance of the cut, is the fact that Soex does not send me into coughing fits like tobacco does. I've never experienced a headache from Soex.

Because the cut of Soex is thin, the heat has to be managed more carefully than it does with tobacco. However, once you've got the heat under control, a bowl will last 45-60 minutes. Best of all, you'll get the same delicious flavor and strong clouds of smoke from beginning to end.

If mixing flavors is something you enjoy, Soex lends itself quite well to flavor mixes. A couple of my favorites are Orange + Vanilla for a creamy orange flavor, Coffee + Mint + Vanilla for a delicious coffee with cream and a hint of mint, and Blueberry + Mint for a refreshing cool berry taste.

Flavors: Aniseed, Apple, Blackberry, Black Licorice, Blueberry, Bombay Panmasala, Bubblegum, Cardamom, Chocomint, Cinnamon, Coffee, Coconut, Double Apple, Golden Apple, Grape, Honey, Lime-Lemon, Lychee, Mango, Mint, Mintos, Mixed Fruit, Orange, Pan Rasna, Peach, Pina Colada, Pineapple, Pudina, Raspberry, Red Cherry, Rooh Afza Cool, Rose, Silver Fox, Strawberry, Sweet Lime, Sweet Melon, Vanilla, Watermelon, White Grape

Carleen's Top 5:
Silver Fox (apple + mint), Rooh Afza Cool (extracts of citrus flowers, rose, and fruits), Blueberry, Mango, and Double Apple

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