I've been to a few in London, many of them are great and you meet some fantastic people, but I always try to meet up with a few friends, too. This time I'd arranged to meet a friend I hadn't seen in quite a while. When I explained this to my colleague, he asked if he come come along.
And then he asked the question.
"What's it like smoking a shisha?"
"It's really like the first time you smoke a cigarette." I said.
Turns out he'd never smoked anything. So this was going to be tough!
The thing is, your first draw on a hookah pipe is going to be different depending on your experience of other methods of smoking. There are a number of elements of smoking shisha that are the same as smoking any other substance.
The non smoker
If you've never smoked at all, you're going to probably find it a bit difficult. Let's not beat about the bush here, you're sucking in particulates that will irritate the mouth, throat and lungs. It's likely that you're going to cough a bit. Quite a bit if you're a country-type and used to clean, fresh air!
However, after a few goes, you should be OK and you can start to enjoy the experience. Shisha is different to cigarettes. It's not as harsh and you're mostly going to be taking in some wonderful flavours. Once you've got used to the experience, you can start to enjoy those flavours and experiment with others.
Of course, you don't have to use tobacco, you can use herbal molasses that will give you the same experience with less of the smoke and particulates. However don't be lulled into thinking they are without smoke completely.
The cigarette/cigar smoker
Getting a hookah pipe might just be your best investment yet!
You're most likely to get the best out of trying shisha because you'll already be used to the smoke and can just get on and enjoy the flavours. And if you're looking to cut back on your cigarette smoking, you can also get herbal shisha that will help you cut down while still giving you those lovely flavours.
Bar or at home?
If you've never tried shisha before, I would definitely recommend finding your local shisha bar and tell them that it's your first time. If they're any good, they'll know that you could be a long-term customer if treated right and they'll help you choose the right pipe, the right tobacco and show you how to light it.
When you've done that and you think you might like to take part in the experience more often, consider buying yourself a pipe from the huge range we have here!