Re: Herbal Shisha - Your thoughts
When you smoke tombac (a dried, block of cured tobacco) you soak it in water and squeeze out the excess moisture before smoking. You apply the coals directly to the tobacco (no foil) as you smoke it through your narghile so although it's filter via the water it's not indirect heat. In much of the rural Arabic, Iranian and Turkic world that is way tobacco is typically consumed. The black and spiced style moassels and tobamels are still common in rural areas but they are loosing ground commerically to the bigger, more modern style fruit enhaced type products.
You're right that the modern stuff is basically hated by the old school smokers. As to when the balck and spiced style stuff started I can't say as the Turks, Iranians, Syrians and Egyptians all claim to have made the first commerically produced moassel. Personally I think it was the Turks but that is just my opinion.
Anyway, outside of the stuff I already mentioned I you can't really get any traditional type stuff in the states. However, I can get a friend of mine to post you a a sample or two of some old fashioned black or spiced moassels and a bit of tombac as well. Just shoot me a PM with your contact info.