Every so often, I hear from customers who discover tobacco leaf stems in their cigars. Many want to know why, and it makes sense to ask. Should the cigars you smoke have occasional stems in them? Is this in fact a sign of a mistake during the cigar manufacturing process?
The answer to that question is “probably not.” Let’s discuss further.
Tobacco stems are found naturally in all long filler (premium) cigars. The stem is what delivers nutrients to the cells of the tobacco leaf when it’s growing—and when tobacco leaves are classified as wrapper, the stem is removed and one leaf becomes two wrappers.
In the case of filler leaves, a portion of the stem is left in place. Typically, only the thickest part of the stem is removed from fillers. Oftentimes, a portion of the stem is left in because it packs a lot of additional flavor and helps maintain the integrity of the cigar (as well as the ash). It also helps imbue the tobacco with a stronger flavor.
Naturally, thicker leaves have larger stems. In a blend, the thickest leaf should be placed in the center of the bunch, with thinner tobaccos built around it. This is what allows the cigar to burn evenly and results in the highly desired cone-shaped ash.
In a properly made cigar, the stem should not significantly restrict the flow of air. While this does occasionally happen, more times than not it’s the result of a mistake on the part of the buncher. A well-made cigar should have channels that allow proper airflow—a topic that we can discuss at greater length in the future.
Did you know? . . . Cigars are almost always made by two individuals: a buncher and a roller. A buncher bunches the tobacco and rolls the tobacco inside the binder. The roller then applies the wrapper. Check out our blog over cigar rolling here.
Also of note . . . Some tobacco varietals have thicker leaves and more noticeable stems. Some of these include Broadleaf and San Andres. You may notice more dominant stems when smoking more full-bodied cigars.
During your journey of cigar discovery, you may experience some issues with cigar craftsmanship. In the future, I’d love to go over some of these in greater detail—yet out of the millions of cigars I’ve sold, probably fewer than one percent of them have suffered from poor craftsmanship. I think you’ll agree that’s not a bad record for a handmade product, right?