By Rob Pecoraro (@dudewheresmyhookah)
Welcome back to the Art of Mixing, a Fumari series where we give you all of the tools needed to excel at mastering the blending of hookah tobacco. We left off our last volume at a critical part purposely to give you a chance to get your hands dirty and understand what goes into the most basic forms of mixing. If you haven’t had a chance to read over our first part or need a simple refresher, you can view it here.
While Blending and Sectioning mixes are still completely viable ways to transcend your mix to new heights, the following two ways we are here to discuss can push them even further!
Layering and Aerating, our topics in this volume, both call for extensive testing of flavors beforehand to not only know percentages but understand how the flavors you want to use react to different methods of heat management and compaction levels alike. Consider smoking the flavors of your choosing homework that you actually want to turn in on time, and in some ways even a labor of love. Get to know their ins and outs while enjoying them as thoroughly as possible. The secrets of the flavors will spill out all on their own and you’ll know exactly when and where to put them in your Layered or Aerated mix.
The first method we want to go over with you today is much like a Frankenstein hybrid of Blending and Sectioning. With a layered pack you are timing different flavor combinations to come out at different times that always keeps you on the edge of your seat. Will this puff taste like White Peach or will this one be that tangy Mandarin Zest goodness? You never know and that’s what makes this method a winner.
To accomplish a Layered pack, you should always start with the flavor that may be more potent than the other you are using. This also goes hand in hand with how it takes heat. Some flavors blossom with less heat and as you’ll understand after smoking them often, many even have more subtle flavor profiles that come out under such conditions. Once you determine which is which focus on your ratio to find the perfect balance of your base.
Once you have found your base, simply top the bowl off with your other flavor or flavors and you’re ready to go. If you’re using multiple flavors, be strategic about your placement and use the techniques we taught you about Sectioning to make a mix within a mix that you instantly earn our kudos for.
An example of this method we love around the warehouse is Island Papaya with Mandarin Zest. Our papaya flavor can be quite bold so this is what we opt for as a base and with the cool, almost creamy mandarin that comes forth it’s a match made in heaven from start to finish. The safe bet is 50/50 for a timeless mix but you can always add in some White Peach for a 30/30/30 mix you’ll love again and again as well.
The final and most difficult method that we have for you in this series is Aerating. As simply put as we can make it, Aerating is intentionally leaving a flavor in your mix more loosely packed to have a more potent effect come through. We’re not sure who figured it out but the fine folks over at Hookah-Shisha.com have done an outstanding job with bringing it to light recently.
The benefit of this pack is to always have the most potent flavor possible throughout the session from the flavor you are giving this treatment to, while simultaneously promoting the overall taste of the mix. As technical as it may sound it isn’t an impossible feat to accomplish but this will take some time to master as the heat management of that side of the bowl or even the bowl entirely if you’re using a layer method changes significantly.
To achieve this, decide on whether you will use a layered or sectioned mix first and foremost. If sectioning, you’ll need to make a note of where you packed that flavor and adjust the heat lower in that area. In general, with Aerating, compensate with less heat where you have more of the negative spaces in the leaves regardless of which method you are using. However, in a layered mix this can be a little more difficult as you will need to use Aeration as the base or even middle layer to distance that portion of your blend from the heat to keep the bowl smoking the way it needs to.
A great example that we found for Aeration is using French Vanilla in this manner in your mixes as you can quickly overpower it if you’re not careful. Our line of mixed mint flavors such as Lemon Mint, Citrus Mint, and Mojito Mojo all benefit from this as well since more mint comes through and makes for an entirely different mix than what you can create when not using the method. But the possibilities with this technique are endless.
Thank you for joining us in your journey of mixing hookah tobacco. While these are the most popular ways of mixing, hookah is always evolving, and with that we say experiment liberally like we do here in the Fumari Lab. If you find something new and exciting while using any of these methods with your favorite Fumari flavors, tag us on our Instagram!