Is It Really Syrian Latakia?

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RSteve

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A retail/wholesale vendor who sells leaf tobacco reportedly has latakia which was grown in Syria but "processed" in Turkey. After doing some internet research, I did learn that tobacco is still grown in Syria, but the processing which turns it into what's known as latakia is done elsewhere. I wonder if what's being sold is closer to Cyprian or Syrian latakia.

Disclaimer: I have no relationship with this vendor other than as a potential customer. My post was not intended as an advertisement for the vendor.
 

Mr_Houston

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I read the description and see what you are saying.

However, I doubt that they are selling is what we call Syrian Latakia. Here’s my thinking: when you search for Latakia, only one product comes up. These days, 1 Latakia suggests to me Cyprian. If another product came up with the Syrian description, then maybe its what we think of as Syrian.

I’d be happy to smoke test a bit if you buys some and think it’s legit. I was smoking some Syrian today in a Pease blend from the old days.

One interesting note: there is a city named Latakia in Syrian near its border with Turkey. It is also near the island nation of Cyprus.
 

RSteve

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I did order one pound of latakia from the vendor. In that Bee Trading Company in Cyprus is currently the only company in the world producing Latakia, no matter where the leaf is grown, this is Cyprian Latakia.
See: An interesting article.

From the article: "The leaf used for Latakia is grown in the region around Turkey, including the Syrian Arab Republic, but then processed in the Republic of Cyprus by a single manufacturer: Bee Trading Company."

So, it would appear that regardless of what brand and price you purchase, it's all manufactured by Bee Trading Company. Differences may only be individual perception based on branding.
 
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RSteve

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Okay, I did it. I filled the bowl of a Mark Twain cob with straight Latakia from the leaf vendor. It is very mild; virtually no nicotine. My mouth does feel like it's full of ashes.
 

RSteve

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...... it would appear that regardless of what brand and price you purchase, it's all manufactured by Bee Trading Company. Differences may only be individual perception based on branding.
And that shoots to hell my perception that Stokkebye latakia has less influence on a blend than does C & D.
I stand corrected, but I'm sitting.
 

Ozark Wizard

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I was under the impression that it was the processing of the leaf that differentiated. Syrian was cured over a scrub oak that grew in Syria. Cyprian was cured over stuff like juniper and other things.

Sutliff adds a slight topping to soften the impact of the Latakia. C&D calls it good as it hits the door coming in.
 

RSteve

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I did order one pound of latakia from the vendor.
I have used basma, smyrna, and nicotiana rustica full leaves previously. All had what I consider normal moisture content when I received them. The latakia I just received was so dry that if I attempted to cut or shred it, it would have become powder. I filled a spray bottle with distilled water, laid out the tobacco and misted it. I also misted some paper toweling and laid it over the tobacco which had been laid out on cookie sheets. This was the first time I'd used this vendor, which others had highly recommended.
In the future, I'll return to using Peter Stokkebye after reading that all latakia is processed by the same company.
 

Logs

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I bought this latakia a few months back half hoping it would indeed taste like Syrian... but no. It's a perfectly fine smoke and while the leaf may originate in Syria, tastewise it's just regular old Cyprian latakia.
 

RSteve

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I bought this latakia a few months back half hoping it would indeed taste like Syrian... but no. It's a perfectly fine smoke and while the leaf may originate in Syria, tastewise it's just regular old Cyprian latakia.
Exactly, plus the whole leaf takes a lot of conditioning before you can shred it. The Stokkebye is just about the same price, without all the fuss.
 

Logs

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I agree it's a bit of work. I mainly got it because I thought it might be real Syrian. It wasn't but nevertheless, it's good leaf and you can make true plugs using it. If all you're looking for is a quick mixer than yes, it's easier just to buy Stokkebyes
 

RSteve

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If all you're looking for is a quick mixer than yes, it's easier just to buy Stokkebyes.
That's me. R "quick mix" Steve. lol I like to put the blend together then can it using a Nemco 5800 tuna press.
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Logs

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I like what I'm seeing. Are you making plugs or crumble cakes?
I'm also curious how you're doing the tinning. You don't hear about blenders doing that very often. Even guys like Ernie Q at Watch City don't tin their own blends.
 

RSteve

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I'm also curious how you're doing the tinning. You don't hear about blenders doing that very often. Even guys like Ernie Q at Watch City don't tin their own blends.
After I press it into a can...I glue the lid on. Depending on how intense I've used the press, the moisture level of the tobacco, and how long it rests, it may become a cake...sometimes just cookies or a pie.
 

RSteve

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The latakia I just received was so dry that if I attempted to cut or shred it, it would have become powder. I filled a spray bottle with distilled water, laid out the tobacco and misted it. I also misted some paper toweling and laid it over the tobacco which had been laid out on cookie sheet.
After the tobacco had sucked up what seem like a lot of distilled water, I cut it up and somewhat rubbed it. It still felt a little dry, so I put it in a large rectangular cake pan, misted it again, and covered the pan with plastic wrap. Moments ago, I checked on it and weighed it. The tobacco weighs slightly over 18 oz. or 12.5% moisture. For me, that's just about right for smoking. I don't like very moist tobacco. The experts, however, say pipe tobacco should typically be somewhere between 18 percent and 22 percent moisture. That means that if you were to weigh a quantity of tobacco, then bake all of the moisture out and reweigh it, it would weigh 18 percent to 22 percent less afterward, depending on where you started. It's a direct function of weight. If a tobacco is at 22 percent moisture level, that means that 22 percent of its weight is water. I do appreciate the fact that I essentially received 18 oz. of tobacco. I have to decide whether to add more moisture, up to 18%, but I doubt that I will until it's mixed into the final blend and I can tell how moist the blend feels.
 
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Logs

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I find Latakia and perique the hardest leaf to deal with. My goal is to use a shredder to cut all my leaf into uniform ribbon but to do that I have to unfold each leaf and flatten it out. With broadleaf VA and burley it's easy to do, but latakia and small leaf orientals can be a pain because the leaves are often crumpled and torn and don't flatten out easily. Perique leaves can be flattened out.. they're wet enough to do it but it's just very time consuming. But now I'm thinking there's no way that big manufacterers are spending the kind of time I am straightening out leaves before they shred them. I've started looking at the latakia in commercial blends and nobody's really doing what I'm trying to do. The latakia looks like it's chopped rather than cut into ribbons. The same with perique
 

RSteve

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What I meant:
plug = uncut leaf pressed
cake = cut leaf pressed
Cake, no frosting or birthday candles. But, it actually comes out of the can like one of those canned fruit cakes that's allegedly made in a farm kitchen in the deep South.
 

RSteve

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I think I'm going crazy! I assembled a batch of my recent Balkan blend using leaf from Total Leaf Supply. Before I shredded it, it had to be conditioned because it was so dry. I misted the leaf before and after it was shredded. When it felt correct, I added it to the other components. The blend, on the first couple of bowls, seems very latakia dominant. I've given it a relatively firm press and will put it to sleep until 2022, then see how it smokes.

My post above: "...... it would appear that regardless of what brand and price you purchase, it's all manufactured by Bee Trading Company. Differences may only be individual perception based on branding." is not correct.

I think each of the manufacturers may process the latakia they purchase from Bee Trading differently.
I think Ozark Wizard is 100% correct in that some manufacturers add a topping or additional casing.
 

Carlos

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It's a secretive thing. Processes and blending have always had this mystical aura. Pressing, steaming, toasting, topping, scenting, just seems to be no end to what some do to tobacco to achieve a desired final product.

Before Chef Daniel passed away unexpectedly, his descriptions of the steps he took making Old Mill Snuff were the stuff of.......almost science fiction.
 
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