What is a Shisha? A Deep Dive Analysis

Shisha is a flavor-soaked tobacco that is perishable and it is used to put inside the shisha pipe before starting a smoking session. 

The word can be used interchangeably where shisha is also referred to the smoking instrument itself.

tobacco shisha

What is shisha made of and what are the ingredients ?

  • tobacco leaf, 
  • molasses, 
  • vegetable glycerin, 
  • selected flavorings.

What are the different types of leaves that are used to make tobacco shisha ?

The first common type is the Virginia leaves tobacco, which is lower in nicotine and is the milder version of shisha.

Second, is the dark leaf tobacco, which is apparently higher in nicotine and is more favorable for smokers that like the harder kick.

Both of these leaves are more commonly produced and used in the United states, Uganda and Indonesia.

How is shisha made and what is the production process ?

Step1: Selection and harvest of the desired Tobacco

The tobacco leaves are harvested, cured, and then dried to prepare them for further processing.

Step 2: Curing and Cutting

Once the tobacco leaves are harvested, they undergo a curing process. This can be done through air curing, sun curing, flue curing, or fire curing, each method imparting different characteristics to the tobacco.

"Some of the parts to be removed from the leaves include stems and veins, leaving only the leaves for this purpose."


After curing, the leaves are then cut into smaller pieces. The size of the cut affects how the shisha smokes and is typically finer than that of cigarette tobacco to ensure it can hold more molasses and flavorings.

Step 3: Mixing with Molasses and Glycerin

The cut tobacco is then mixed with molasses or honey, which acts as a binding agent and helps in retaining moisture.

Glycerin is added to the mix as it serves two purposes: it helps produce thick clouds of smoke when heated and it also smoothens the flavor. The ratio of tobacco to molasses and glycerin varies depending on the brand and the desired strength and sweetness of the shisha.

Step 4: Adding of Flavors

Flavoring is what sets one shisha apart from another and can include a wide range of extracts and essences. Common flavors include fruits like apple, cherry, and grape, as well as more exotic options like rose, mint, and cappuccino. 

The flavoring process involves blending natural or artificial flavors with the tobacco mix to create distinctive and rich taste profiles.

Step 5: Aging and Packaging

After mixing, the shisha tobacco needs to rest. This aging process allows the flavors to meld properly with the tobacco, enhancing the overall taste and aroma. The duration of this phase can vary from a few days to several weeks.

Once the shisha has aged sufficiently, it is packaged in airtight containers to preserve its freshness and moisture until it reaches the consumer.

Step 6: Quality Control

Throughout the manufacturing process, quality control is crucial. Samples from different batches are tested to ensure consistency in flavor, moisture, and smoke quality. This helps maintain the standard of the final product, ensuring that it delivers the expected taste and smoking experience. Accessories like the shisha heat management is also an important factor to control the heat output and essentially the quality of the smoke.

Is there nicotine inside the shisha tobacco and can it be addictive?

Yes there is. Nicotine is the main component found in shisha tobacco, which is the chemical that causes the internal addiction that makes people want more. However, health effects are also a concern in modern society based on a study conducted by various health organizations. Hence, the charcoal for shisha is a major proponent of a good smoking session. 

Interestingly, recent studies have concluded that shisha smoking leads to significant exposure to PAHs, volatile aldehydes, CO, NO, nicotine, furans and nanoparticles.


In addition, CO levels have been observed to significantly increase after shisha smoking. Typically, carboxyhaemoglobin concentrations are greater than 10% in shisha smokers, compared with 6.5% in cigarette smokers and 1.6% in non-smokers


Is there a healthier alternative to the conventional tobacco shisha ?

Yes there is. Tuah Australia is the first supplier in the world that uses Zea Mays (maize/corn) to create  this new alternative shisha that is free from tar and tobacco as to what normal conventional tobacco has.

Non-Tobacco Shisha

What is non-tobacco shisha made of?

They are made from Zea Mays, which serves as the primary ingredient for its production, constituting over 70% of its content, together with Glycerin, which comprises 20-30% and then some flavoring that comprises about 5-10% depending on the mixes.

Where are Zea Mays found?

It is cultivated throughout the world, such as the United States, China, Brazil, Argentina, Ukraine, India, Mexico, Indonesia, South Africa and Russia.

The United States holds the greatest global trade of 31%, followed by China (22.43%), based on the 2020 statistics.

what is the production process for non-tobacco shisha?

Tuah Shisha Process Flowchart by Zanardy Annuar

Corn is very versatile,” Wicker Velez says. “The entire plant has uses. For instance, corn husks can be used to make tamales or woven as a textile to make shoes or baskets. Cornsilk is dried and used in traditional Chinese and Native American medicine as a tea.”


How is it compared to nicotine-based shisha ?

Our Husk-based shisha sets itself apart from nicotine varieties by offering a cleaner experience. With our special ingredient, it boasts an equally satisfying buzz to tobacco-based options, but with a more mild and calming effect. Additionally, the versatility of Corn Maize in the food industry is well-documented, as supported by data from reputable sources like wiki.

As a food, maize is used to make a wide variety of dishes including Mexican tortillas and tamales, Italian polenta, and American hominy grits.


Frequently asked questions

You can browse and try any of Tuah’s Husk shisha here.

Yes you can. You can read this detailed blog about how different combinations can create very unique sensations.

No, it doesn’t. We have written a detailed blog that talks about this topic. You can read it here.