its Matt @coveredincloudz, today I will discuss a topic that I noticed to be a really common issue during the time I spent on various hookah community groups – smoking Tangiers.
I saw a lot of Tangiers’ amateurs getting frustrated after the first try, so together with Olla Bowls Team we decided to do something about it, so here we go:
Tangiers Setup Guide!
When a person who never tried Tangiers asks about it at any Internet Hookah Group it usually starts like that:
‘Hello, I just bought my first Tangiers, how do I smoke it, any tips on the setup?’
And about an hour later there goes another post from the same person:
‘I want to sell 235g’s of my Tangiers, any buyers?’
Clearly, the session did not go so well if someone gives up after an hour.
So, is it unsmokable because so many people give up after the first try?
It is just a tobacco that requires you to forget anything that you know about hookah setup, because with Tangiers, everything is different.
Before we proceed to the actual knowledge, I would like to note that it is an intermediate-level guide.
Tangiers can be a beast when it comes to the buzz, especially if overheated or with a wrong setup.
If you never smoked any dark/burley-type tobacco, I do not recommend taking Tangiers for your first try.
There are lots of other dark tobaccos that will not kick as strong and will be better for anyone who wants to try burleys – for example:
- Starbuzz Vintage – low-strength;
- Darkside – Medium-strength;
- MustHave – Medium+
If you are familiar to those above and you actually enjoy them, you should be able to try smoking Tangiers.
Here are the key features of Tangiers that make it different than other tobaccos:
- Really fine cut, probably one of the finest cuts on the market;
- It is supposed to be dense packed and compressed;
- Smoked on foil / foil+provost, regular HMD’s does not fit it well;
- It is a low-heat tobacco, kicks strong when overheated;
- Requires a proper setup in terms of hardware (phunel bowl, heavy-duty foil, provost, coals);
I will start from the last point as it is crucial – you need to have the setup to enjoy Tangiers:
2) Heavy-duty foil
It must be a phunnel bowl as Tangiers is supposed to have a limited airflow between the leafs and release the flavour through evaporating the smoke from the bottom of the bowl.
Phunnels also reduce the buzz and that is exactly what you should aim for.
To give you some comparison, Virginia-based tobaccos are more like beer, light and refreshing.
Tangiers can be anything between sipping whisky to chugging it straight from the bottle, so, just for the responsibility and enjoyment, it needs to be managed properly.
My favourite bowls for Tangiers is the new Olla ‘Ade’ or Olla Nero.
I have tried many others before but this one gives me the densest smoke and a full flavour.
2) Heavy-duty foil
It allows you to reflect some of the heat from the coals which fits the low-heating well.
For Tangiers you will need to make a lot of holes in the foil so thick one is recommended as it will not break that easily.
I personally use foil that is 40 microns thick.
Probably the only HMD that fits the tangiers setup.
Allows you to have increased control over applied heat and if smoked without the lid, creates additional space between the tobacco and the coals – exactly what you need for low-heating.
If you do not have it, you can use Batcha instead, but provost just fits better as it allows you to increase the temperature when the coals are fading, just by putting the lid on.
Here things go tricky.
Tangiers is made mostly for US market, where lots of people use so-called ‘flats’ coals.
In Europe we use cubes, so not everyone has flats on a daily basis.
Flats are the preferable coals for Tangiers, as the cubes tend to overheat some areas.
The lower the caloric value of the coal, the better it is for Tangiers, as it will produce less heat.
Moving to the setup I will be using for this guide’s purposes:
Hookah: Alpha Hookah X;
Bowl: Olla Nero
Foil: Smokaz 40 microns hookah foil;
HMD: AOT Provost v2;
Coals: Black Cocos Rects (26x26x22mm flats)
The moment you decide that this is Tangiers day is the point where you should already have forgotten about how do you usually make your pack.
None of the usual rules will apply.
First of all, take a phunnel plug and place it in the bowl.
It will make the packing easier.
Then, stir the tobacco nicely in the container and start putting Tangiers into the bowl.
Lots of it.
<caption – half-compressed bowl>
Take a fork or use your finger and start compressing it by simply pressing it down the bowl.
You will probably end up with a half of the bowl full so add some more Tangiers and compress it again.
Remember, you are aiming for a dense pack.
There should be no empty space between the leafs.
You should compress it to the point that it is still ‘spongy’.
Just as the manufacturer says on the label – it should be compressed to a density that you get in the unopened package of Tangiers.
I usually leave around 1mm of space between the top of the bowl and the tobacco surface just to get the proper airflow.
<caption – fully compressed bowl, I had to add the double the amount of tobacco I put in initially>
Take out the phunnel plug and use your fork to compress the tobacco that is closer to the phunnel hole in a way that it is a bit higher on the sides of the bowl and lower closer to the hole.
This way the airflow will be better.
After all this, the pack should look more or less like that.
You can see that the tobacco gets lower the closer it gets to the hole.
Now, put on a square piece of foil and stretch it.
Then, keep the pressure on the foil with your hand, take your poker and start making holes, punching it through the foil and through the tobacco, to the very bottom of the bowl.
Each time you make holes you should touch the bottom of the bowl.
This way you are making airflow canals that the flavor will be released through.
The holes need to be made densly.
Depending on what you are using, fork or poker, you will need 3 or 4 lines of holes.
Finally, correct your foil once again. Watch out as the foil breaks here very easily, so here is a method how to do it properly:
In the photo above, my right hand holds about two-thirds of the bowl firmly (pushing it to the sides of the bowl and a bit to the bottom) and with my left hand I am grabbing the remaining part and pulling it down.
When pulling the foil down, do not use just your fingers – try to grab it with your palm.
If you did a good job, you should be able to do this:
Now, test the airflow by putting your lips to the bottom of the bowl and making an inhale through the bowl.
If the airflow is uninterrupted, you did a good job and the bowl is ready.
If the airflow is even slightly restricted, you will have to take some tobacco out, take a new piece of foil, stretch it, punch the holes etc.
Remember that when you put the provost and coals, the foil might get about 1mm lower while inhaling, so if airflow is already restricted before this, you might kill your session with such a pack.
It is always better to make any corrects to the pack before you put the coals on.
When the bowl is ready, it is time to put on provost and some coals but do not use the lid yet.
Prepare 3 flat coals and put them Stonehedge-like on the outer part of the provost.
It is important to put them on the thinner part of the coal as less heat will reach the tobacco when you are not drawing.
When the coals are in, wait around 3-5 minutes and you can start smoking.
Now it is time to control the heat.
As tangiers responds to overheat very easily, it is important to move the coals quite often.
Initially, put them close to the sides of provost, and when the coals will be fading out, you can start moving them a bit closer to the middle or put them on the 26mm side.
With Tangiers it is vital to move the source of heat so it is distributed equally on the tobacco.
Personally, I do not move the coals themselves, I rather rotate the provost for about 120 degrees each 5-10 minutes so I can add some heat to the parts that are underheated.
So, this are the basics. I hope that with this guide you will enjoy your Tangiers or dark leafs tobacco sessions like never before.
Olla Bowls team wishes you a nice smoke!
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