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Whole Leaf Tobacco

How do you create ribbons of Latakia?

mwaller

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#1
I received my first order from WLT, which included a variety of Virginias, dark air, Maryland 609, and Latakia. With my shredder, I was able to create nice ribbons of all varieties except Latakia, which crumbled and largely turned into dust. Do I need to add moisture before shredding, or is Latakia always just crumbly? Thanks!
 

jojjas

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#3
Or just crumbled them between the palm of your hands , i do and i think it´s the fastest way to get latakia in the right size to blend it with
 

deluxestogie

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#4
It is possible to rehydrate whole leaf Latakia, in order to shred it. However, once it returns to an appropriate case for smoking, it will become crumbly again. So it's not really worth the effort. Latakia is always crumbly.

My approach to it is to form a small, long pile of the whole Latakia leaf on my cutting board, then slice the pile every 1/8" or so. This includes stems and all. The result is mostly small, broken pieces, which is what I use for blending. In general, I discard the fine Latakia dust. But you can actually use the dust, if the blend into which you mix it is at a reasonably smokable case. The other components of the blend allow the Latakia dust (not too much of it) to adhere to the shred, and blend fairly well.

To do the actual mixing of the final blend, I place it all into a 1 gallon Ziploc freezer bag, inflate and seal the bag, then shake and toss the contents within the bag for about 1 minute. It's then manually compressed (either in the same bag or within a pouch) for a day or two to allow the humidity to equalize in all the tobacco.

I'll add here that there is no need to be obsessive about textural or even component homogeneity in a pipe blend. Just mix it up well, then enjoy whatever ends up in your pipe for a smoke.

Bob
 

mwaller

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#5
I went ahead and blended a light English from Virginia Red, Prelip, Latakia, and dark air. Tastes as good as most other English blends I've had. Could use a bit more sweetness, though.
 

deluxestogie

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#8
VA Bright Leaf is the name of a flue-cure variety. It is also used to describe all flue-cured tobacco. Lemon Virginia is an outcome of flue-curing--the brightest of the yellow leaf, and usually comes from the lower leaves on the stalk. Red, also an outcome, is from higher on the stalk.

Bob
 

mwaller

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#9
Interesting. I have WLT VA Bright Leaf and VA Thin Leaf (which is certainly more yellow). Which would be closest to "lemon?"
 

deluxestogie

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#10
Try each of them in small batch blends. "Thin Leaf" is probably from the very bottom of the plant, and would be called volado, if it were cigar leaf.

My experience with flue-curing has given me the impression that the very first priming (the very bottom leaf) comes out thinner and lighter colored, and has a more floral aroma than the lug leaf (just above the bottom leaf), but has less sugar than the lugs. My first primings of the VA Bright Leaf variety flue-cure to a pale, canary yellow; the next priming is more lemon yellow; next up is a marigold, with a heavier, richer flavor, and more nicotine; my top leaf tends strongly toward the brown end of the spectrum, and has the fullest flavor and nicotine.

[Just as a historical note, the term, "bright tobacco", emerged in the middle of the 19th century to distinguish air-cured leaf from flue-cured leaf. It encompassed many varieties that were routinely flue-cured, following the spread of the technology of flue-curing. Southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina were labeled the Bright Belt. So, the NE North Carolina Bright Belt grows "Virginia" tobacco.

Flue-curing itself is just a curing technique, which can be applied to every variety of tobacco. Some turn out crummy when flue-cured, like burley and most cigar varieties. Those varieties that were recognized to be marketable as bright tobacco after they were flue-cured were eventually designated by the USDA as being members of the (entirely fictitious) "class", FLUE-CURED. It's like calling a particular cut of beef, "grilled".

Sorry to drone on about this, but the notion of "class" and the term, "bright", continually lead to a lot of confusion, since they seem canonical, rather than just being, in reality, USDA marketeering. But we're stuck with them.]

Bob
 

OldDinosaurWesH

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#11
I use a small gun-powder scale to make small batches to experiment with different blends. I start with a total, usually 10 grams (a nice round number) and work my way back from there on percentages and types. Ten grams is a small enough amount that if you have created a monster, you can always throw it out. Conversely, if you like the blend, you can scale it up.

Wes H.

Bob: I like the historical story you told. Very interesting.
 

Matty

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#12
Simply put, I've never made ribbons of latakia. To get around the problem of latakia crumbling to the bottom of a blend I've always laminated the latakia with other more resilient leaf like flue cure. Press a block or roll a "carotte" inter-leaving the latakia with the other leaf chosen. It's not a permanent bond but helps with blend homogeneity. Also works really good when trying to incorporate small amounts of perique into blends.
 
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#13
Just shredded some Latakia yesterday. What I did was shred any of the larger leaves and anything that wouldn't fan out I just rolled into a tiny cigar type shape and cut with a scissor every 1/8i to 1/4 inch or so, it came out very well. I also use a small scale as OldDinosaur mentioned (one that measures to the 100th) to test out a 2-3gram sample in order to fine-tune the recipe and really dial it in before I commit to a larger batch
 

CobGuy

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#14
What else are you blending with that Latakia @Tookish?

This thread reminds me that I've got a couple pounds of that 1997 Latakia from WLT ... I should get busy with that! :)
 
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#15
Stoved VA and perhaps some Cavendish, I'm attempting to clone the Frog Morton's blends, and the McC Dark English (my personal favorite smoke) it's tough to try to match that vinegar flavor though, but I am determined to do it
 

deluxestogie

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#16
...it's tough to try to match that vinegar flavor though, but I am determined to do it
McClelland was famous for all its blends having a ketchup aroma, especially right after opening the can. My guess has been that they actually used a diluted vinegar solution as a mold inhibitor. Try a diluted (50:50) spritz of distilled vinegar on a tiny batch.

I was happy when that aroma finally dissipated.

Bob
 
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#17
Thanks I will definitely try that, I have suspected they add vinegar... Especially in the dark English which has a nice Tangy zest to it. Would vinegar help to prevent mold like a humectant?
 
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