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Plug vs brick?

jm10

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Hello,
I'd noticed reading on here some people mention bricks of tobacco. Would this be after many leaves are smashed together, before making flakes? Or is a brick another idea entirely?

I had made plugs earlier this year like the moldy tobacco thread. But does making a plug or brick do anything chemically to change the tobacco flavor? It blew my mind when I took the plug out of the pvc tube press and it was black. Is that because theres so many leaves close together it becomes opaque, or something happens chemically?

We had tried smoking some of the yellow leaves before compacting them and it reminded me alot of cigarettes. After compacting them it got that pipe tobacco flavor, didn't seem like cigarettes at all.

Thank you
 

Charly

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I my opinion, when people talk about "brick" they are talking about "plugs" that are prepared with more pressure.
When you apply a lot of pressure, you make the juices come out of the leaves, which becomes black as it oxydize.
More pressure = more changes in the end product.
 

deluxestogie

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"Brick" is a prosaic term for a tobacco plug, so I'm not sure that it has any special meaning.

Most tobacco takes on a "sweeter" taste and more prune-like aroma when pressed. I think this is a combination of disruption of cell walls in the leaf lamina (which can happen at as low as 3 to 5 psi), allowing everything that is normally isolated within the cells to be exposed to both air and microbes. If this is done beneath a liquid seal (typically under about 35 psi), then the yeast, Pichia anomala, dominates, and turns it into Perique. With more access to air, that doesn't occur so much, and there is less of a "stinky" Perique aroma.

So just plain old pressing does alter the tobacco, making it somewhat darker in color (nicotine oxidation) as well as more fruity. Since there are infinite variations in the possible applied pressure and moisture content and ambient microbes, there are a lot of possible outcomes.

In the distant past (say 170 years ago), a pound or more of finished tobacco was pressed into a thick sheet, like a 1" thick plank of wood. These were cut into flat, 1" thick, 1.5" wide bars of relatively dry tobacco, and wrapped that way, to be shipped to general merchants (trading posts and general stores). These rectangular bars were called tobacco "plug". Each merchant had on hand a guillotine-type cutter (called a plug cutter), with a long lever for a handle, that enabled him to cut a plug of tobacco into the length desired by a customer. During that epoch, the customer would then take the paper-wrapped chunk of plug home, where it would store well, and then use a common knife to shave off slices for immediate use. This was called "sliced plug". The sliced plug was then rubbed between both hands, and transformed into shred for putting into a pipe. Commercial vendors began offering pre-sliced plug in small tins, and soon also offered "ready-rubbed" sliced plug, that resembles the typical shredded tobacco sold today.

A commercial alternative to plug tobacco was twist tobacco, which is a 1" thick rope of tobacco, sold as a roughly 1-foot length that had been twisted into a loop. Similar to plug, twist tobacco is first sliced, then the resulting coins either just folded and stuffed into a pipe bowl, or sometimes rubbed.

A lot of this plug and twist practice really had to do with prolonging shelf-life, shipping within the commercial supply chain, and customer expectations at that time. I suspect that the unique aroma and flavor characteristics that resulted from the processes were not actually the prime consideration for development these techniques.

Bob
 

ChinaVoodoo

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I appreciate and agree with the above two comments, except I have to question the oxidation theory, which I believe we take for granted. My pressings which are generally medium case and of sufficient pressure to break a softwood 2x4 result in marbled tobacco. The pressure is high enough that I can say there is no air. It is not darker on the edges where there is more oxygen. It does not get darker after pressing but darker during pressing. Some leaves in the plug are not changed very much and some are changed a lot. (are they high in antioxidants?)

No doubt there is some oxidation, but I believe the reactions caused by rupturing leaf cells are so complex that to call it oxidation is an over-simplification.
 

deluxestogie

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If you observe Perique, at the time of first removing it to air-out (after a few weeks since initial pressing), the leaf is its original color, but rapidly turns dark after exposure to air. The liquid seal of a Perique press is fairly efficient at rendering the tobacco fairly oxygen depleted. The leaf cells are well crushed at 35+ psi.

Dry pressing, while the environment does lower the oxygen, does allow some in there to perform enzymatic oxidation.

I can't refute your contention that calling it oxidation is an over-simplification, though it is supported to some extent by published research [Philip R. Tarr, Masters Thesis, 1933, Penn State U]. There are other enzymes that are known to be active, some only toward the end of fermentation (peroxidase, polyphenol oxidase, proteinase, and alpha-amylase), and some of which may be microbial in origin, even though the microbe count in and on tobacco actually falls during fermentation. [Ziu, Zhao, et al., Tobacco Sciences 2003/2004, 46:24-27.]

We clearly don't have a complete understanding of the processes happening during various curing and finishing methods, and research on tobacco--other than health issues--is practically nil in the US now. So, unless the Chinese or Eastern Europeans undertake more specific research, we will likely never know the whole story.

Bob
 

ChinaVoodoo

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This Is a beautiful video in which you can see what Is a brick.... It Is the same as a plug but I love this way that was used by english sailors manu Yeats ago....

View: https://youtu.be/0Sqhu11WjC4
This is a great video, but it is not a brick.
In the video they call this a perique. We generally call it a carotte in the forum to prevent confusion with the barrel fermented perique.
 
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