For the record: smoking is bad for your health. Cigars are also considered tobacco and are as harmful as cigarettes (or even more so). This article is for knowledge dissemination purposes only; for your health, please do not smoke.
In everyday life, people's perception of 'cigarette' is mostly the common cigarette - smokers carry around a cigarette case and a lighter. When they feel like it, they take a cigarette and then "pop", light the roll and start to swallow the smoke (highlight, this place will be tested later).
But in movies and literature, it is often a different kind of smoke that is lit in the hands of poets, politicians and underworld bigwigs - cigars.
Cigars have always been associated with former British Prime Minister Weston Churchill, image via BBC Cigars were first invented by the native peoples of the Americas The cigar was first invented by the native peoples of the Americas (yes, there's a Columbus connection again). Columbus, who "discovered" the Americas, brought the tobacco back to Europe after seeing the native people smoking cigars, and spread it around the world, with Europe at the centre.
In this article, we'll talk about cigars, a seemingly high-end and somewhat mysterious species.
What's the "big man's" favorite cigar, anyway?
What is a Cigar? In terms of categorization, "Cigar" and "Cigarette" are the same type of thing, they are both tobacco products and both contain nicotine, which is addictive. According to rumors in the jungle, the name "cigar" as we now use it in Chinese was first suggested by Xu Zhimo during his meeting with Rabindranath Tagore.
The biggest difference between cigars and cigarettes is the quality of the tobacco, the process of making it and the way it is smoked.
The quality of tobacco used in cigarettes is far inferior to that of cigar tobacco from a raw material standpoint. The tobacco used for cigarettes is grown using chemical means such as pesticides to prevent and remove insects, because even this treatment does not adversely affect the tobacco made later. The tobacco used in cigars, on the other hand, is grown with only physical means to prevent and remove insects, without allowing a single chemical to have the slightest effect on the aroma or flavor of the tobacco.
In terms of the production process, cigarettes use a much simpler process and will also have more additives. Instead of steps such as fermentation, the tobacco leaves used to make cigarettes are simply crushed and then aromatic extracts, combustion aids, etc. are added. This also explains why cigarettes burn out on their own even if they are lit and left unsmoked.
And the tobacco used to make cigars needs to be air-dried, fermented and mellowed over a long period of time before it is brought to use. At the same time, the shape of the tobacco leaf is made sure to be complete, which makes a cigar basically come from a single leaf from the inside out - the wrapper, binder and filler correspond to the light, dry and light sections of the tobacco leaf.
Cigar structure diagram, image from https://www.holts.com/clubhouse/cigar-101/cigar-anatomy-parts-of-a-cigar
As I mentioned earlier, the word "swallowing" is the most appropriate way to describe the process of smoking a cigarette, because of the word "swallow". If you are a smoker like me, you must have heard of the term "over lung". The term "over-lung" refers to the process of smoking a cigarette, where you first inhale the smoke, then "swallow" it into your lungs, and finally exhale and exhale. The step of "swallowing into the lungs" is what we call "passing the lungs". For old smokers, just inhaling the smoke into the mouth and exhaling it is too wasteful and does not relieve the addiction.
But 'swallowing' doesn't work for cigars. The tobacco in a cigar is treated, and with the addition of a filter, the flavor of the tobacco is much lighter, and the tar, carbon monoxide, and nicotine content is filtered through the filter so that the smoker does not feel uncomfortable. Most cigars do not have a filter, and the tobacco leaves are not chemically treated to retain the flavor while the tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide content are not filtered by the filter. Cigars are smoked by inhaling the smoke, letting it linger in the mouth, savoring its various natural aromas, and then exhaling.
Cigar brands are surprisingly few
Compared to the huge variety of cigarettes in the world, cigar brands are very few - there are only about 30 cigars in the world. In contrast, there are more than 2,000 cigarette brands in mainland China alone. When you put the two together, more than 30 brands is a very small number. Among these 30 brands, the most prestigious are the Cuban ones, and the better ones are from Havana, the capital of Cuba, here is a brief list of some of the more classic ones
When it comes to cigars, the name "Cohiba" has to be mentioned. As the C-suite of cigars, one of the key reasons why this brand is at the top of the industry is that it was created for the purpose of tailoring cigars for former Cuban President Fidel Castro, and subsequently, Cohiba became an exclusive product for dignitaries for a time.
Cohiba cigars are available in 4 classic lines, La Línea Clásica, La Línea 1492, Maduro 5 and Behike. In addition, Cohiba has several limited or special editions.
Gohiba Siglo II, image from https://www.nextcigar.com/zh/products/cohiba-siglo-2?variant=21087204867
Romeo y Julieta
Named after the famous Shakespearean tragedy, the cigar brand dates back to 1875. The brand has the largest collection of cigars in the world, including the Short Churchills, released in 2006, and the Wide Churchills, launched in 2010. the Wide Churchills' unique tube sleeve packaging, 55 gauge ring gauge and other designs are a pleasant surprise for cigar smokers. I also recommend starting with the Romeo & Juliet brand for its unique lighter flavors that are perfect for newcomers to the cigar world.
Image from cigarslover.com
Bolivar cigars, the strongest and fullest brand of cigars. The brand was founded in 1902 and the tobacco factory is located in Partagas, Havana. At the time of the first success of the Cuban Revolution, the factory produced one sixth of Cuba's annual production of cigars. The brand's cigars are mostly long fillers and most of them are hand-rolled. Their full-bodied, full-bodied flavor is popular with many cigar smokers.
Bolivar's Cofradia Collection, image from https://cigarsdaily.com/product/bolivar-cofradia-no-654-box-of-25/cigar-picking-and-matching
Cigars are like wines, each one has a different flavor and aroma, and each cigar smoker has his or her own preferences. Each cigar smoker has his or her own preferences, and the tools and beverages used with the cigar have an important influence on the aroma of the cigar.
Pick a cigar of your choice
The first thing we need to pick is the shape of the cigar. The shape is divided into two big points, one for the length and one for the ring gauge.
Image from cigaraffection.com
Picking the right cigar for your hand and acceptance is the first step in getting started. Choosing the right cigar helps to enhance the tasting experience. For example, for those with small hands, choosing a cigar with a ring gauge over 50 and a length over 20cm may cause hand fatigue during long periods of cigar lifting.
Once the shape has been chosen, it's time for the color of the cigar tobacco, which is the degree of fermentation and toasting. Generally speaking, the darker the color, the more intense the flavor. Common flavors include sweet, spicy, woody, fruity, creamy, nutty, and floral.
Figure it out, light it up
Unlike smoking, you don't just light up a cigar with a lighter after selecting it. The tasting session starts with cutting the cap off the cigar.
To cut eggplant hats, you need an eggplant hat knife. In the movie "No Thief Under Heaven", the character played by Ge You is always playing with a two-finger open and close knife, that is the eggplant hat knife.
One of the most iconic scenes in the movie "A World Without Thieves" is when the bandit leader Uncle Lai uses a cigar cutter to punish the wrongdoing gang members. Image intercepted from Tencent Video There are many kinds of cigar cap cutters, the shape of a clipper, the shape of a two-finger opening and closing, the shape of a drilled blade, etc. etc. Once the cigar cap is cut or drilled, it's time to move on to the smoking part.
Various forms of cigar cutters, image from Davidoff's websiteThe most important point of this session is --Lighting the cigar. We know that the usual cigarette can be lit with just a dollar lighter, because of the combustion aid added inside the tobacco. Also, thanks to the aromatic extracts within the cigarette tobacco, the tobacco of the cigarette does not become tasteless due to the taste of the fuel inside the lighter. Unlike cigars, the taste and aroma of cigar tobacco can be greatly damaged if the cigar is lit with a gasoline or LPG lighter. Cigars are also different from cigarettes in that the tobacco does not light quickly without an accelerant and the lighting process is relatively longer.
The proper procedure for lighting a cigar is to place the cigar over the fire source and toast it in a slow circle until it is fully lit. Also, it will occasionally be necessary to blow on the cut end of the cap to act as a booster. To preserve the original flavor of the cigar leaf, many cigar makers include a cedar wood chip in the box, tear off a piece when needed, light it with a match, and toast the cigar with the burning wood chip. The aroma of the burning cedar wood chips blends well with the cigar and preserves the flavor of the cigar; there are also many matchmakers who make special matches for cigars that do not contain wax. Butane is also often used as a cigar lighter because it does not produce the smell of chemical products when burned and does not destroy the flavor of the cigar.
By the way, have another drink.
Similar to the process of wine (or coffee) tasting, cigars can be enjoyed with "side dishes" that amplify or enhance the flavor of the cigar. Accompanying a glass of wine or a cup of coffee can add to the enjoyment of the tasting.
It is best to find a private, airy environment, sit on the sofa and enjoy the process quietly, starting with the cutting of the cap. For example, the aforementioned "Romeo and Juliet" cigar, which is light and rich in coffee and cedar wood, would not go well with a strong, peaty Scotch Whisky. Pair it with a Cutty Sark Whisky, which has a grassy, citrusy, green apple flavor, and it will resonate with the lightness of the cigar.
Smooth Whisky, image from https://jason-scotchreviews.blogspot.com/2011/05/review-cutty-sark-blended-scotch-whisky.html In short, for the sake of balance of flavors between cigar and beverage, never pair strong flavors with weak flavors, but balance the flavors to make the tasting process more interesting and comfortable.
The offline experience is more fun
I have experienced cigars several times at an underground cigar bar in Shinjuku, where a variety of whiskies and cigars are offered for customers to enjoy. At that time, I also smoked the Romeo & Juliet brand, and the price of one was around 800-900 yen, which was in the affordable category. Also, since I am allergic to alcohol, I ordered an iced oolong tea. The aroma of the tea mixed with the wood was quite tasty.
There are also a very large number of offline experience shops in China, so those interested in cigars can search online. There is a wide range of cigars available for tasting and purchase in the cigar shops.
Many people online recommend buying cigars from airport duty free shops, but I don't actually agree with this. Cigars have very strict environmental standards for preservation, just like wine, with limited room temperature and humidity. Airport duty free shops are too complex to be suitable for storing cigars at a constant temperature and humidity. Cigar experience stores, on the other hand, usually have complete storage measures in place to maximize the flavor and provide better cigars to customers.
Please remember that while a cigar is not a cigarette, it is still made from tobacco leaves. The smoking process produces a lot of smoke, so please be sure to enjoy it in a separate, ventilated environment that does not bother the people around you. Also, even if you don't pass your lungs during smoking, it still contains harmful ingredients such as nicotine, which can be harmful and addictive. So if you are not a smoker, please better not get into the pit, and if you are a smoker, please try to smoke less and smoke less cigars.