The Hookah: Breathing Life into the Past

Welcome to ‘The Bubble,’ better known to most of us as Orange County. In this place where suburbia rules and trends change at the bat of an eye, there is also a rich and often untapped variety of culture. Once in awhile, this culture peeks out of the sameness in the form of a ‘fresh and new’ trend. A perfect specimen of a century-old tradition that is currently gaining momentum in our area is the hookah.


The hookah is a water pipe composed of four major pieces: a mouthpiece, a tube, a top piece and a glass body which is filled with water. Today’s more elaborate models have trays to catch falling ash from the coals and an air valve to release excess smoke from the glass body. Flavored tobacco (also known as shisha) is placed loosely on the top bowl. Then, the bowl is wrapped with foil that has holes in it, and is finally topped with burning coals which activates the entire apparatus.


The 17th-century Turks are cited as the inventors of the hookah, also known as nargile (or ‘ghalyun’ in Farsi). It quickly became a steadfast part of the culture, bringing people together in coffee and teahouses. This eventually spread throughout the Middle East. Even today