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Whole Leaf Tobacco

deluxestogie

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#1
Discussion of Indonesian Tobacco


Towering fields of shade-grown TBN tobacco. (Perantara)

Why Indonesia?
First of all, we should recognize that the former Dutch colony of Indonesia has a distinguished history of tobacco growing that dates back hundreds of years. Early Dutch traders were carrying tobacco seed to the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) by the early 17th century.

Florida Sumatra wrapper was developed directly from Indonesian Besuki seed, as was Ecuador Sumatra, which graces many premium Central American cigars.


Where in the world is Indonesia? (Victrolacoffee.com)

At the turn of the 20th century--Teddy Roosevelt was then living in the White House--within the United States, the USDA was working feverishly with Connecticut growers to develop a domestic wrapper leaf that could compete with the light, thin, sturdy Sumatra wrapper that had swept over the US market, and had driven down the market value of the common American wrapper varieties. Their successful new variety was Connecticut Shade-grown. (Much of Sumatra was at that time controlled by the Aceh Sultanate, but later came under the control of the Dutch, and eventually incorporated into Indonesia.)

While today, Macanudo is wrapped in CT Shade, the finest H. Uppmann cigars are wrapped in an Indonesian grown TBN Shade leaf. As with all tobacco varieties, Indonesian tobacco comes in several distinct varieties, and a mind-boggling number of marked grades.

Varieties of Indonesian Tobacco
There are two categories of tobacco that account for most of Indonesian production: cigarette and cigar.

You may be aware of clove cigarettes. These are what most Indonesians smoke for a cigarette, and are called Kreteks. The primary tobacco ingredients of Kreteks are varieties of Virginia and various local tobaccos.

RECIPE for Kreteks:
cloves 40%
Indonesia type tobacco: 30%
Indonesia-grown Virginia tobacco: 30%

As the world's largest producer of cloves, Indonesia nonetheless consumes over half its annual crop of cloves in the making of Kreteks. (If you've ever ignited a whole clove, then you know that it lights easily, and sustains a red glow until the entire clove is nothing but fine ash.)

I should point out here that clove acts as a local anesthetic (clove oil stops toothache). Inhaled, it suppresses the gag reflex, and increases the likelihood of bacterial pneumonia and aspiration pneumonia. Burning clove is also fairly damaging to the lungs.
CDC - 2011 said:
Regular kretek smokers have 13 to 20 times the risk for abnormal lung function (e.g., airflow obstruction or reduced oxygen absorption) compared with nonsmokers. http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/tobacco_industry/bidis_kreteks/

Handling primed wrapper leaf. (Perantara)

Cigar Varieties:

Besuki: (generically known as "Sumatra") a key component of the blends of most machine-made small cigars for the European market. When grown on the island of Sumatra, it is labeled as Sumatra.

TBN: Tembakau Bawah Naungan (shade grown tobacco). Consolidated Cigar's Besuki-TBN (developed in the 1980s), which is used on H. Uppmann and Romeo y Julieta, is a cross between besuki and Connecticut shade. TBN is the highest quality wrapper from Indonesia.

Na oogst [NO]: ("late harvest") In the dry season when rainfall is more moderate, protective shelters are not needed and the crop can be grown in the open with only natural irrigation. This is essentially sun-grown leaf. It can be of ANY specified variety.

Voor Oogst [VO]: ("early harvest")

VBN: Vorstenlanden bawah naungan, roughly translated, Connecticut-shade grown in Central Java. The quality is not as fine as TBN, but can still make excellent wrappers.

Other named Indonesian varieties.

Jatim: Jawa Timur, which is Indonesian, East Java. A cigarette variety.
Lumajang: The capital of Lumajang Regency, in Indonesian, East Java. ?use
Madura: An island off the northeastern coast of Java. A cigarette variety.
Bojolali: (Dark-Fired). Used for pipe and cigarette.
Lombok: A cigarette variety.
Beringin: A cigarette variety.
Paiton: A cigarette variety.
Curah Nangka: A cigarette variety.
Maesan: A cigarette variety.
Bojonegoro: A cigarette variety.
Kasturi: Used for pipe and cigarette blending.

Important upland areas for Virginia-kretek tobacco include parts of Central Java, East Java and Lombok.

Major lowland areas for cigar tobacco include parts of Central Java, East Java and North Sumatra.

In some locations, garlic and tobacco may even be planted together with a circle of garlic established first to make an eventual planting cover for tobacco.


The 17,508 islands of the Republic of Indonesia. (CIA World Factbook)

An interesting article from Cigar Aficionado on VBN leaf.

Here is a wonderful article on Indonesian pipe tobacco (link provided by ChinaVoodoo): https://medium.com/@pylorns/indonesian-pipe-tobacco-71630487a33d

An excellent 2015 article (found by Charly), discusses the diversity of Indonesian tobacco: http://berkalahayati.org/files/journals/1/articles/851/submission/851-2416-1-SM.pdf (6 page pdf)

Bob
 
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deluxestogie

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#2
ADDENDUM (stuff I forgot):
I've always wondered why any sane person ever considered covering acres of land with shade cloth. Who would ever think of that?

From what I can figure out [this is just a theory of mine], this originated in Indonesia, not in an effort to alter the leaf, but because the rainy season is so brutal there that unprotected tobacco would be regularly destroyed. Tobacco was grown under protection during the rainy season, then a second crop was grown without protection during the dry season.

The first Sumatran canopies were made of natural woven fibers, and constructed as modest top and side coverings for small, family plots of tobacco. This just accidentally created very large, thin leaves that became popular throughout the world as cigar wrappers.

When the USDA undertook the project of creating a wrapper that could compete with Sumatra leaf, they introduced shade-growing to the US.

Bob

P.S. If you have any historical materials that might confirm or contradict this notion, I would be eager to explore them.
 

Jitterbugdude

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#4
At the turn of the 20th century--Teddy Roosevelt was then living in the White House--within the United States, the USDA was working feverishly with Connecticut growers to develop a domestic wrapper leaf that could compete with the light, thin, sturdy Sumatra wrapper that had swept over the US market, and had driven down the market value of the common American wrapper varieties
Actually, I believe the Sumatran Wrapper got its foothold in America because the U.S. raised the tariff on wrappers to 75 cents but kept the tariff on binders and fillers at 35 cents. The Dutch conglomerates re labeled all their wrappers as "fillers" and were allowed to import them into the U.S at half price compared to the American wrappers. When the tariff was raised to 1 dollar the tariff for binders remained at 35 cents. Thus the huge influx of Sumatran wrapper. I do not know when shade grower became the commercially accepted norm but supposedly Sumatran leaf was very thin not because of shade growing but because of the predominance of cloudy days.

Randy B
 
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deluxestogie

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...supposedly Sumatran leaf was very thin not because of shade growing but because of the predominance of cloudy days.
It seems that the question comes down to whether or not the surging Sumatra leaf industry (starting in the 1860s) was using shade structures to prevent rainy season damage, or was growing the leaf in the open, under clouds. I haven't been able to find any definitive historical citations to clarify that question. I'm sure it's out there. I'll keep looking.

There is an interesting 2003 Masters thesis by Robert Pando from Florida State University, entitled Shrouded in Cheesecloth: the Demise of Shade Tobacco in Florida and Georgia, which asserts that Sumatran merchants purchased seed from Florida in the 1860s, and that Florida growers later (~1900) purchased "Sumatra" seed to develop the FL Sumatra variety. Unfortunately, there seems to be a lot of local pride wrapped up in the oral tradition of north Florida. The index page for this informative thesis is http://diginole.lib.fsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3936&context=etd. It allows access to each of the chapters.

Beyond that, here is some additional info that I've scoured from various sources.
The Connecticut Valley Tobacco Historical Society said:
A type called Shoestring, then Broadleaf and Havana Seed supplied the leaf. In the late 1800's a fine grained type imported from Sumatra began to replace the wrapper from the valley. Researchers matched Sumatran leaf by making shade tents of cloth to cut sunlight and raise humidity. The first tent was put up on River Street in Windsor [CT] in 1900.

http://www.tobaccohistsoc.org/about.htm
1863: SUMATRA: Nienhuys creates Indonesian tobacco industry. Dutch businessman
Jacobus Nienhuys travels to Sumatra seeking to buy tobacco, but finds poor growing and
production facilities; his efforts to rectify the situation are credited with establishing the
Indonesian tobacco industry.

http://grace4life.com/History_of_Tobacco-by_Gene_Borio.pdf
Wismilak Premium Cigars said:
Nowadays, tobaccos grown on Sumatra and Java are grown using many of the same methods and techniques, descended from Cuban seeds, just as they were in the 1600's.

http://www.wismilakcigars.com/about...ull&id=1313638780&archive=&start_from=&ucat=&
None of this provides an answer to the key question.


Bob
 
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deluxestogie

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#6
Here is some additional info on the origin of shade growing. I have yet to find details about the early use of shade in Indonesia.


"In 1863 Jacob Nienhuys planted the first export tobacco here [Sumatra], on the Deli River. This became the famous Deli leaf, the world's most desired cigar wrapper. The first shipment arrived in New York in the early 1870s..."
I had thought that the "Deli" listed in ARS-GRIN coming from Sumatra, was from India. I was mistaken.

In Cuba, in the 1880s, a German observer described a method of making semilleros—seed beds: ”The utmost care is taken to protect the seeds against the stifling heat of sunrays as well as heavy showers. To this end forked sticks about three inches high, are placed around the tobacco beds, opposite one another, and into these forks thin twigs are laid, which are covered with palm-leaves in such a way as to form a slight roof . . .” A drawing accompanying the description depicted a miniature version of what would soon become shade tobacco.

The next step—the development of the concept of shading the growing adult plant—is murky. Some of the literature credits Connecticut growers, but the dates cited are later than the dates given for Florida introduction. Connecticut was not an early adopter. One account attributes the innovation to William M. Corry, a Long Island native working in Gadsden County [FL] for the New York firm Straiton & Storm. According to this version, the experiment was made in 1899, and Corry used cheesecloth. In Gadsden County, Sylvester Woodward is less specific. Woodward family lore recounts that shade tobacco was “discovered” when tobacco was planted on new ground, with some plants placed close to trees with the result that the tobacco grew in partial shade. The leaves on the shaded plants were thinner and more desirable than the leaves in full sunlight.

The most believable account credits the New York firm of Schroeder & Bon, whose principals admired the thinner leaf and finer texture of tobacco cultivated in Cuba, in the shade of orange trees. They told their Florida representative, D. Alexander Shaw, to plant some of the smuggled Sumatra seed in the shade of groves. Shaw considered the suggestion, then decided to substitute wooden slats, which he believed would be more practical than growing tobacco in and around larger plants. By the 1898 season, the firm had 100 acres of tobacco growing under shade.

This version is confirmed by a parallel account that dates the Cuba trip to the winter of 1895-96. Shaw conducted his initial experiment in 1896 on a quarter-acre plot just west of Quincy. The following year Shaw expanded the trial to a two and one-half acre plot, and the test was deemed a success. Seizing the opportunity, Shaw applied for a patent, and organized a company to build slat-shade structures. The patent was rejected—shade had already been used somewhere else, for another crop. Schroeder & Bon moved ahead. In 1898 the company planted 100 acres under shade and harvested the first crop large enough to be marketed. In 1900 the United States Department of Agriculture moved a Florida employee, Marcus L. Floyd, to the Connecticut River Valley to begin experiments there with shade tobacco. Floyd’s work led to the establishment of the region as a major shade tobacco production area.
...
...the total amount of “plant substance” on plants grown under shade was the same as on plants grown in open sunlight, but that under shade, plants had more leaves, and thinner leaves, than plants grown under normal conditions.
...
Under some ambient lighting conditions, flying ducks can mistake cloth-covered fields for lakes and dive into them, attempting to land. A crop duster in Decatur County mistook a cheesecloth tent for pavement and mistakenly “landed” in a tangle of gauze, wire, and poles.

The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station grew the first shade tobacco in Connecticut in 1900. Using the prized Sumatran seed, the station harvested tobacco that sold for $1.40 to $2.50 per pound, much higher prices than any other tobacco grown in the Valley. Nevertheless, Connecticut growers had a hard time converting to the new method. After the first few years of trials with Sumatran seed and seed purchased in Florida, they found that Cuban seed produced better results under their growing conditions. By 1907 they had sorted out their seed problems and most farmers began the conversion to shade.
Given Pando's extensive search of the literature (including many unpublished graduate thesis documents), it seems unlikely that the question about the use of shade growing in Indonesia, at least from a European/American perspective, will be answered in the absence of historical research directly from Indonesia. Even a single old photo of Jacob Nienhuys' operation in 1863 would speak volumes.

Bob
 
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deluxestogie

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#7
The following is a rare look at how the native people of Sumatra traditionally cultivated tobacco (variety is not identified) in 1823--before the arrival of European growers.
Tobacco is cultivated by both the Malays and Battas. They sow the seeds in small beds, and transplant it in twenty days, in rows distant about two cubits [~3 ft.]. In four months it ripens. After two months the tops are cut, which gives strength and increased size to the leaves. When the plant has seven leaves, they begin to gather them: the sign is the leaf drooping, and assuming a brownish hue. The natives pluck one or two leaves at a time, according as they may have approached to maturity; expose them to the sun four days, and then pack them up in small baskets, in which packages the tobacco is exported. If the seeds are required to be preserved, of course the tops of the plants are left untouched.
This curious tome is available for free download on http://www.archive.org/details/missiontoeastco00andegoog. The Google version is fully readable online. The Kindle version can be downloaded, but the OCR makes a mess of the text.

Bob
 

deluxestogie

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#8
"Toothy Wrapper"
Sometimes, in descriptions of premium cigars, one encounters the phrase, "toothy wrapper," frequently applied to wrappers from the African nation of Cameroon. Other varieties are occasionally "toothy."

I don't know what causes this phenomenon. It seems to be related to the variety, rather than the geography or processing methods.

This is a cigar I rolled today, wrapped in a very tasty Indonesian VBN shade wrapper. The wrapper burn was excellent. Most wrappers aren't toothy. Toothy leaf looks like it has fine goosebumps.


In the image, you can see the fine bumpiness of the leaf,
and the white "teeth" that still remain on the ash.


Bob
 

deluxestogie

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In attempting to answer a question about Indonesian tobacco today, I came across a magazine article on Sumatra tobacco that ties-in to my previous post about "toothy" wrapper. Over the years, I had associated that characteristic with African Cameroon wrappers.
GATRA Magazine Indonesia. Aug 22 said:
Cameroon tobacco seeds were sourced from Sumatra transported by the Netherlands to Africa...about a century ago. The local climate and temperature in Cameroon is not much different from in Sumatra, thus making it successful to grow Sumatra tobacco seeds.
http://perantara.de/en/Tobacco_Germany_Gatra_magazine.pdf
Bob
 

ChuckP

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#10
WOW! GREAT THREAD!! I haven't had a chance to read everything, but will back to finish later. I like Randy had heard some regions had enough cloud cover or overcast to achieve the lighter colour and smaller vein size. I like the old tyme picture of the cuban fields under the palm trees.

Bob - Good looking smoke, very toothy!
 

istanbulin

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Vroege oogst [VO]: ("early harvest")
When I searched it , it came up as "Voor-oogst". Voor-oogst is a type of tobacco grown in the rainy season and harvested in the dry season. This type is also called dry season tobacco (onberegend).

The most interesting one is "green sliced" tobacco. It's growing and processed in East and central Java. There're different varieties used for this purpose like; Paiton, Bondowoso, Madura, Garut, Waterford etc. This green sliced tobaccos are sun cured after shredding and only used for making clove cigarettes.

I think this is the machine they're using for shredding green leaf.

 

jekylnz

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So do you think these varieties would be derived from turkish/oriental sun cured types?

That explains slicing the green leaf....clove cigarettes yuck.. no wonder it would nt matter how the tobacco sun cured from shredded green turns out...cause they ruin it by adding cloves anyway.
 

istanbulin

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No, I don't think those local Indonesian varieties derived from Oriental varieties. Sun-curing bring Oriental varieties to mind but it was also in use for some Virginia varieties in the past. In this procedure (shredding green leaf) I'd not consider it as a sun-curing proces, I'd call it "sun-drying". Because the shredded tobacco probably dries quickly in the sun without "curing" enough.

On the other hand, Indonesia grows Oriental type tobaccos for local cigarette companies.
 

deluxestogie

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I do find it interesting that Sumatra wrapper types--Deli, Timor, FL Sumatra, etc.--are a columnar (rather than pyramidal) plant, with a leaf shape and vein pattern similar to the Basma-type Orientals. Presumably the original seed was brought there hundreds of years ago by Dutch traders. Tracing their lineage has been a futile effort on my part.

Bob
 

JessicaNicot

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a colleague of mine is looking for "Madura" tobacco seed for research purposes. I don't have anything by that name in the collection and a google search turned up a legacy document (http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/...id=EE39CC442C61185E2E821F1CDFA83C71.tobacco03) that says that the tobacco varieties grown on the island of Madura are called Jepon Kenek and Jepon Raja. I don't have these in our collection (and I couldn't find them in 3 other collections either). does anyone know where I could procure some?
 

JessicaNicot

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Consolidated Cigar Corp is now a part of Altadis. Although their Romeo y Julieta and H. Upmann cigars utilize only wrapper leaf from Indonesia, someone in their corporate headquarters might be able to provide a connection in Indonesia for locating the seed.

http://altadisusa.com/contact

Bob

well here's hoping! I sent them a nice message.
 
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