Whole Leaf Tobacco

Why Thin Leaf Makes a Better Cigar Wrapper

deluxestogie

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
May 25, 2011
Messages
16,354
Points
113
Location
near Blacksburg, VA
The consensus is that thin leaf makes a better cigar wrapper than thick leaf. Why is that?

A cigar wrapper serves several functions:
  • taste
  • aroma
  • visual appeal
  • tensile strength (how much pulling force is required before it tears)
  • stretch
  • occlusion of air passage
The first two of these do not directly relate to leaf thickness. The visual appeal of a wrapper, aside from its color and the smoothness of its surface, is influenced by how well the wrapper conforms to the contour of the filler bulk, and how uniformly it compresses the bulk.

It is the final three functions that are directly influenced by the thickness of the wrapper leaf. If it is strong (tensile strength) and stretchy, the wrapper--same for binder--can compress the filler into a round contour that is steady over the length of the cigar. And if it does not tear, it will seal out air passage across the surface of the cigar.


http://phys.org/news/2013-10-secret-math-biologists-uncover-leaf.html

A recent study (from UCLA) of the difference in cell structure between thin and thick leaves of numerous plant species found that a general rule applies.

While the number of cells and number of cell layers are the same, thicker leaves have larger cells and thicker cell walls. "This means that if a leaf has a larger cell in one tissue, it has a larger cell in another tissue, in direct proportion, as if you blew up the leaf and all its cells using Photoshop." This is why thick lettuce has more "crunch" than thin lettuce.

Cell walls, which are a carbohydrate structure unique to plants, and not present in animal cells, are relatively stiff. The softer attachments between cell walls of adjacent cells serve as hinge points. Because the smaller the cells, the more "hinges" there are over a given expanse of leaf, the greater the ability of the thinner leaf to stretch without tearing.

My own conjecture regarding tobacco leaf is that the attachments between cells are weakest in the bottom leaves, and strongest in the upper leaves. So we have two factors working against one another, when it comes to tensile strength, as we progress from the bottom to the top of the stalk. At the very bottom, we find leaf with the maximum flexibility, but the weakest attachments between cells. At the top, the leaves have the strongest attachments, but the least flexibility.

The sweet spot seems to be leaves from the middle 3/4 of the stalk, where leaves have solid attachments between the cells, yet small enough cell size (thin enough leaf) to possess numerous hinge points.

Of course, cigars can be wrapped with leaf from all stalk positions, but doing so with leaf from very low on the stalk, or very high on the stalk, must be accomplished with minimum stretch, yielding a not so tidy appearance or air occlusion.

Shade-grown wrapper, which is always thinner than sun-grown of the same variety, will yield leaf with more numerous, smaller cells--stretchier leaf with greater tensile strength. Sun-grown wrapper gives us some wonderful maduro and oscuro cigars, but the wrapper is always more difficult to apply nicely.

Bob
 

MarcL

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 11, 2013
Messages
3,550
Points
113
Location
Central Maryland
Good info. I was told to add a thicker wrapper to a thinner binder and thinner wrapper to a thicker binder. "Jesus Fuego"
 

deluxestogie

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
May 25, 2011
Messages
16,354
Points
113
Location
near Blacksburg, VA
The thinner over thicker: thicker over thinner is an issue related to burn quality, but really only applies to the specific commercial varieties of leaf. The one combination that seldom burns properly is thick over thick. If your filler burns at all, then thin over thin will always burn.

Bob
 

AmaxB

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2012
Messages
2,436
Points
0
Location
Inwood West Virginia
The thinner over thicker: thicker over thinner is an issue related to burn quality, but really only applies to the specific commercial varieties of leaf. The one combination that seldom burns properly is thick over thick. If your filler burns at all, then thin over thin will always burn.

Bob
I get-it.. I made some with MD 609 as Binder (was thin leaf) and Ecuador Shade as wrapper burned very even. I made some others with Broad Leaf Binder and Ecuador Maduro as a wrapper and they did not burn so evenly but did burn well. Now I understand way when watching the pros on youtube rolling many remove the inner section of leaf.
 

deluxestogie

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
May 25, 2011
Messages
16,354
Points
113
Location
near Blacksburg, VA
Now I understand way when watching the pros on youtube rolling many remove the inner section of leaf.
When you cut an arc from the stem side of the wrapper leaf, it makes the remaining strip conform better to the cigar bulk. Doing that also weakens the tensile strength of the strip, so I avoid cutting away an arc if I'm rolling a cigar without a binder.

Bob
 

BarG

Moderator
Founding Member
Joined
Jun 23, 2011
Messages
4,752
Points
83
Location
Texas, Brazos Vally
When you cut an arc from the stem side of the wrapper leaf, it makes the remaining strip conform better to the cigar bulk. Doing that also weakens the tensile strength of the strip, so I avoid cutting away an arc if I'm rolling a cigar without a binder.

Bob
Thats a good observation.

I have started cutting the arc though with my homegrown bezuki binder and wrappers. I never really used to but I am still learning and different varietys are just that. The Bezuki is the thinnest wrapper I have grown. Good compressed filler and some good wrapping without to much overlap or excess makes a nice draw and burn.
 

Jitterbugdude

Moderator
Founding Member
Joined
May 22, 2011
Messages
4,248
Points
113
Location
Northeast Maryland
I'm a big proponent for shade grown wrapper but only because it makes a pretty cigar. I notice no difference for instance between my sun grown and shade grown Florida Sumatra other than looks. I'm really surprised no one else grows shade wrapper on this forum with such a collection of ingenious people here making everything from their own Tuck cutters, shredders, flue curing chambers etc.
 

Smokin Harley

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 25, 2014
Messages
2,573
Points
48
Location
Grant ,Alabama
I'm really surprised no one else grows shade wrapper on this forum with such a collection of ingenious people here making everything from their own Tuck cutters, shredders, flue curing chambers etc.
I'll take that as a hint...as my wife says ,I'll figure something out that will work .
As we say in construction...its not impossible , it'll just cost more.
 

deluxestogie

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
May 25, 2011
Messages
16,354
Points
113
Location
near Blacksburg, VA
I have considered quite a number of methods for constructing a shade structure. My greatest hesitation is that any framework that rests on the ground results in yet another obstacle to mowing the grass.

Bob
 

Jitterbugdude

Moderator
Founding Member
Joined
May 22, 2011
Messages
4,248
Points
113
Location
Northeast Maryland
I have considered quite a number of methods for constructing a shade structure. My greatest hesitation is that any framework that rests on the ground results in yet another obstacle to mowing the grass.

Bob
You are looking at it all wrong Bob. By constructing a shade structure it gives you more reason to NOT mow in the general direction of the structure. Saves time..:)
 

moscca

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 15, 2014
Messages
180
Points
18
Location
Honduras
I was told here that shade grown wrapper has significantly less taste than sun grown.


Jan.
 
Top