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How to Smoke Blends That Have Formed Sugar Crystals

(33 posts)
  • Started 1 year ago by Pipe Novelist
  • Latest reply from misterlowercase
  1. matchstickman

    Pipe Novelist

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    I was lucky enough to do a trade with rmbittner recently and got my hands on some Stonehaven. When it arrived, I got a bag of some very long strips of dark brown/black flake and noticed sugar crystals were forming on the tobacco

    I'm not gonna lie to you guys, my heart skipped a couple of beats.

    Now that being said, I have never smoked a blend where sugar crystals had started to form on the tobacco, so my question is: should one take even more care when smoking a blend like this? Do the sugar crystals under the influence of the flame make the tobacco burn even hotter? Any tips/tricks I should know that will facilitate a better smoking experience? I am thinking of saving this for a special occasion, but I might have to try a bowl or two just to see what it is like. Any advice is appreciated, and thanks again to rmbittner for a wonderful trade!

    Posted 1 year ago #
  2. rmbittner

    rmbittner

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    Not sure what you mean by "sugar crystals," here. I've been smoking from that same bag and haven't run across anything like that.

    I'd just suggest smoking it.

    Bob

    Posted 1 year ago #
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    Anonymous

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    You know, some (or all) of those "sugar crystals" could be bloom. Bloom is the crystalization of tobacco oils that form with aging. I've not seen sugar crystals myself, but have seen bloom on pipe tobacco as well as cigars.

    Whether sugar or bloom or both, other than normal preparation, such as proper drying if necessary, I personally would prepare, pack and smoke as usual.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  4. eaglerico

    eaglerico

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    I look forward to see the advice given. In the mean time...could you take a picture and post it. Would be interesting to see this as I have never seen it.

    Glenn
    Posted 1 year ago #
  5. mikephillips

    mikephillips

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    Just smoke it...it's gonna be gooooood

    I've smoke quite a lot of old tobacco, never did anything special, just load and go. Others may have differing opinions, as they have probably discussed this with others and maybe have better ideas and I have not.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  6. spartan

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    Smoke as usual. Just means it has transformed into super mellow goodness.

    "I was born to lose. So I'll die to win." -Breaking Benjamin
    Posted 1 year ago #
  7. matchstickman

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    Not sure what you mean by "sugar crystals," here. I've been smoking from that same bag and haven't run across anything like that.

    When I looked inside the ziploc baggy I saw little white flecks all over the top of the flakes. I tried searching around the forums and a couple of other pictures of some other pretty well aged tobaccos led me to believe that these were sugar crystals, or at least that was popular opinion seemed to be in regards to these white specks. Ill see if I can get a picture up in a few minutes for the rest of you guys.

    EDIT: I couldnt get a really good picture of it that showed what I was referring to. rmbittner, the white speckles are really hard to see unless you are REALLY looking for them, but they are there in the bag you sent me. I was always led to believe those white speckles were signs of really well aged tobacco. I also have to say that grabbing the bag to take the picture and smelling the tobacco inside made my mouth water. I dont think this stuff is going to make it to a special occasion. This is just too awesome.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  8. docwatson

    docwatson

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    If it has sugar crystals or bloom on it, don't smoke it. It will spoil your palate and tastebuds and when you run out of the stuff you will have withdrawal. Send it my way instead and I can alleviate that problem for you.

    It's good sportsmanship to not pick up lost golf balls while they are still rolling---Mark Twain
    Posted 1 year ago #
  9. mikephillips

    mikephillips

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    If it has sugar crystals or bloom on it, don't smoke it. It will spoil your palate and tastebuds and when you run out of the stuff you will have withdrawal. Send it my way instead and I can alleviate that problem for you. [:lol:]

    You say that as a joke (the not smoking it part), but that's no damned joke at all, I was that way for awhile. Got spoiled on very old tobaccos and nothing else seemed even adequate, much less enjoyable. When I ran out of the good stuff I went down to 1 or 2 pipes a week for awhile, nothing tasted "good" for a long time. The most spectacular smoke I've had (from an old tin) was Charatan's English mixture that was...dunno, just very old, 10+ years, maybe even twice that.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  10. matchstickman

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    Further Edit: Given what I just read on rothnh's post, I am assuming this could be "bloom" I just compared what I saw in the tobacco to other pictures of the same thing I had seen in previous forum posts, and "sugar crystals" seemed to be a popular vote, so I just assumed thats what they were. In any case, it sounds like normal smoking seems to be the best option.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  11. docwatson

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    I did say it as a joke, but it is also very true like you stated. That's the reason for cellaring so many pounds of fine leaf for years. Stash a pound for every pound you buy and before you know it you have aged tobacco that is the best there is. Just look at what the prices for vintage tobacco bring on eBay and other sites. It's amazing and justified IMO. Some folks pay hundreds of $$ for a bottle of vintage wine, others pay hundreds of $$ for vintage tobacco. Both give the aficionado the most luxurious taste ever.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  12. docwatson

    docwatson

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    PN,
    If they are sugar crystals, which are common in well aged Virginia blends, they will sparkle just as sugar does, bloom will be dull in appearance. Both are signs of well aged and fermented leaf, fantastic stuff.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  13. matchstickman

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    Both are signs of well aged and fermented leaf, fantastic stuff.

    rmbittner gave me some from a batch from 2007, so ~6 years on it. I cant wait to try some, to be honest I am a little nervous to try it. Ive never had tobacco aged that long before, and from what you guys tell me it is going to be easy to get hooked on it.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  14. tjameson

    tjameson

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    I smoked a bowl from that same bag and its fantastic. Don't be worried at all! I cube cut it, but the flakes are very thin so it would rub out nicely too. Burned perfectly and was a great experience. Load up a bowl or two and then save the rest for special occasions, that's what I'm doing anyways. Let us know what you think of it!

    BLACKBLOODs for life...just please keep making Black House!
    Posted 1 year ago #
  15. gray4lines

    Gray

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    That is awesome. I didnt know pipe tobacco would do that! Should be delicious!

    Can you take a picture of it? (Nevermind, I see that you ready tried! No worries)

    Posted 1 year ago #
  16. chopz

    chopz

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    light match. apply match to tobacco. puff and enjoy.

    you're welcome.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  17. rmbittner

    rmbittner

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    I've seen crystals develop in much older tobacco -- say, a 30-year-old Virginia -- but this bag was just six years old. I don't know what you're seeing, but I agree with the consensus here to fill a bowl.

    Bob

    Posted 1 year ago #
  18. thesmokindragon

    thesmokindragon

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    Mmmm, bloom...smoke it!

    Posted 1 year ago #
  19. spartan

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    The only sample of Penzance I've smoked had bloom on it. Was crazy delicious.

    Still havn't bought a fresh tin of the stuff for fear that it wouldn't be as good!

    Posted 1 year ago #
  20. crpntr1

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    I have some FVF from '09 that has bloom, some of the best I've had

    The most important things in life are good friends and a good bullpen...not necessarily in that order

    You may all go to hell, I'll go to Texas-Davy Crockett
    Posted 1 year ago #
  21. sparroa

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    Bob, I would wager that if you held a flake up to a desk lamp or something you would get a glimpse of what he's talking about.

    It is quite common to see that in a blend with just a couple years on it, let alone 6 or 7.

    Pipesnovelist, smoke away. It will be perfectly fine if it matches your description.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  22. rmbittner

    rmbittner

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    Okay, I grabbed a handful of random flakes from the bag from which Pipe Novelist and TJameson have both received samples. Here are three shots:

    Pipe Novelist:

    BTW, it doesn't sound like you're unhappy with our trade, but if you are, just PM me and I'll send something else.

    Bob

    Posted 1 year ago #
  23. plet

    plet

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    When crystals starts to form, so should a smile on your lips

    I have a weak spot for Billard-, Canadian-, Liverpol- and Poker-style pipes from Comoy and Dunhill...
    Posted 1 year ago #
  24. rmbittner

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    Sorry to keep posting here, but all this discussion reminded me of something that may or may not be significant:

    I got this Stonehaven in 2007. But I got it in a trade from someone I only knew online. It's possible that it's actually a year or two older than 2007, since I have no idea how long the trader had it in his own cellar.

    Bob

    Posted 1 year ago #
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    Anonymous

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    As noted here, it's not uncommon for bloom to be present on aged pipe tobacco. When and how much depends on the blend and the storage conditions. Bloom, in and of itself, adds no flavor or nuance of it's own to the blend; like bloom on cigars, it is simply an indication that the tobacco was aged properly and for a significant amount of time.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  26. matchstickman

    Pipe Novelist

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    BTW, it doesn't sound like you're unhappy with our trade, but if you are, just PM me and I'll send something else.

    I didnt want you to get the impression that I was unhappy at all. As a matter of fact, I am giddy as a kid at Christmas having received tobacco that is this well aged. I just recently started getting back into Virginias, Vapers and Vaburs and this stuff should be absolutely outstanding. I cannot thank you enough for the trade. It was awesome.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  27. rmbittner

    rmbittner

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    Glad to hear it, Pipe Novelist. Your posts were all positive, but I got to thinking that maybe I should be reading between the lines or something.

    Anyway, I'm eager to hear what you think when you actually smoke of this stuff!

    Bob

    Posted 1 year ago #
  28. mikephillips

    mikephillips

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    Tell you what guys, few things can compare with old virginie 'baccie. I'm in complete agreement with those guys that say VA's age better than other tobaccos. Not only that, I believe any blend with a decent amount of VA's in it (30% or more), the effects of the aging VA's is transmitted to the other tobaccos in the blend. And all it takes for VA's to show dramatic improvements is a few years, they don't have to be in a cellar for 10+ years. I'm pretty sure this is why Escudo has few true peers....I was told the VA's they use are already aged before spun with the perique into the twist, sliced, and tinned.

    So if you have some 3 or 4 year old tobacco with some VA's in it, relax and enjoy the hell out of it, 'cause it's tough to beat in the world of pipe smoking.

    P.S.
    Pretty sure this is why the 10 year old tin of Escudo I opened recently didn't show marked improvements in taste when compared to a tin I had from a few years ago.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  29. joshremy

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    I'm glad this was posted! If I had seen bloom on my tobacco I would have thought it was mold or something of the sort and thrown out some good stuff. I've had too many food sanitation courses from my earlier days and have become somewhat over careful with food, so I would have had those instincts jump right in if I saw some bloom.

    "The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him." - G. K. Chesterton
    Posted 1 year ago #
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    FWIW, depending on storage conditions and other factors, mold and bloom can appear on pipe tobacco. If looked at closely, it's fairly easy to tell the difference. Mold will appear to rise up slightly -- growing, living organisms, -- from the surface of the tobacco. Mold has small furry tendrils, is moist and will smear when touched. Bloom, on the other hand, is completely dry, white, crystal-like, flat to the surface of the tobacco and powdery when touched.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  31. yaboofive

    Richard Gonzalez

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    Good to know I have something to look forward to in my cellar.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  32. samcoffeeman

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    I've heard from my local B&M where mosta re cigar smokers, that when cigars bloom or "plume" they are at the height of flavor. Here is a little from the Tobacconist University website:

    “Plume”, also known as "bloom" is a naturally occuring by-product of long-term cigar aging. As the cigar's oils are exuded through the wrapper, they dry and crystalize on the outside. It appears as a white powder-like substance on the outside of the wrapper. Plume/bloom (pictured below) can be gently wiped off with no negative consequences to the cigar: it is significantly different than cigar mold.

    I don't believe the guys at my local shop wipe off the crystals. I think I may have a couple tobaccos with this as well, including a bag of penzance!

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,
    that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights,
    that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness
    Posted 1 year ago #
  33. misterlowercase

    misterlowercase

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    I love the magic mystery crystals!

    Sometimes it seems they start forming pretty early on, depending on density and moisture I guess, here's some MB ODF from March 2012 I opened 3 months ago, the flakes had a nice light dusting with glitter:

    ...and dig this JKP that was only 6 months old from an old thread, this thing certainly looks like a majik brownie!

    http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/jack-knife-plug

    Like it's been said, there is some debate to what this stuff actually is. Who knows? I'd love to see it get the full scientific treatment complete with chemical analysis & microscopic pix!

    Here's some wisdom nuggets from G.L. Pease on the subject:
    "The crystals that appear on aging tobacco are more likely something that is soluble within a narrow pH range.These crystals are not very soluble in water. As the tobacco ages, the pH changes, and some things that haad previously been in solution may, and apparently do, precipitate out. But, from some very preliminary testing, it is almost certainly not sugar."
    &
    "I don't think the crystals that form on tobacco are sugar. A long time ago, I did some messing around with some of the crystals I discovered in a tin of Va, a little analysis, and they did not behave like any sugar that would be in tobacco. They were not even soluble in water! At the time, I could neither harvest enough of them, nor did I have access to the necessary equipment to get a read on what they might be."

    Posted 1 year ago #

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