The spicy yet sweet flavor with a hint of cloves in the smoke makes clove cigarette or kretek gain popularity among cigarette fans. But, a clove cigarette isn’t just an ordinary tobacco product, there is a story behind the making of this exotic cigarette.
If you are an avid clove cigarette smoker, it’s a must for you to understand the cultural and historical value of this Indonesian cigarette. There are so many fascinating facts in a stick of kretek. So, hold on tight, and let’s delve into the history of clove cigarettes!
The Story Behind Clove Cigarettes
Tobacco made its way back in 1558 when Europeans brought it back from Yucatan, Mexico after their New World exploration. The plant rose to popularity after a French man, Jean Nicot, followed how the Native Americans smoked tobacco. He used a pipe to savor the taste of the leaves.
Fast forward to the 17th century, the Dutch planted cloves in Indonesia and made the commodities abundant on the tropical island. At that time, cigarettes consisted only of tobacco and clove cigarettes hadn’t been made yet.
The invention of the clove cigarette was in the 18th or 19th century. It was first advertised as a cure for respiratory problems, such as asthma and sore throat.
It was believed that Haji Djamari was the one who made clove cigarettes as a means to treat his chest pain. He mixed tobacco and clove oil and rolled it into a cigarette with dried corn husks after finding out that rubbing clove oil on his chest helped relieve his medical issue.
Djamari’s condition improved after he smoked the clove cigarette. Little did he know that it was due to the eugenol substance in the cigarette that helped numb his chest pain.
Haji Djamari began to distribute the ‘medicine cigarette’ to local apothecaries and later on, his invention garnered popularity among the Kudus people in East Java.
There is also another version of the invention of the clove cigarette. Besides Haji Djamari, Nasilah is also one of the people who was assumed to be the creator of kretek.
Nasilah made and sold dried corn husk wrapped cigarettes with a mixture of clove and tobacco in her shop. The clove cigarettes were well-liked by local smokers, especially dokar chauffeurs, and traveling merchants.
In fact, one of his customers, Nitisemito, became her husband and was known as the forefather of clove cigarettes. It was Nitisemito who further boosted the exotic cigarette’s popularity.
He built a clove cigarette business in 1960 and named his company ‘Tjap Bal Tiga’ which was located in Kudus, Central Java. Nitisemito’s intention in selling the clove cigarettes inspired other people to establish their clove cigarette businesses in Indonesia.
The Rise and Fall of Clove Cigarettes
From the 1920s to 1930s, clove cigarettes were mainly smoked by middle-class people while the white cigarette was still deemed superior. The production of cigarettes, including kretek, was at its lowest in the World War II-era due to the scarcity of tobacco and clove.
Fortunately, the clove cigarette rose again to the spotlight after the war and in the early 1970s, kretek became Indonesia’s national icon. At this time, clove cigarettes were already manufactured using machines instead of being hand-rolled manually.
There is a long history behind the creation of a clove cigarette. In fact, the art of making a kretek has been passed down from one generation to another. At first clove cigarette was rolled manually, but now the wrapping process can be done with advanced machines. Despite the modernization, there are still several clove cigarette companies that hand-rolled their kretek for local and international smokers. One of them is the Srintil brand in Temanggung, East Java. The brand is quite popular in Bremen, Germany.
How Clove Cigarette Is Made?
Clove cigarette smokers will often wonder if the process of making kretek is the same as the conventional cigarette. The answer is no. To make a clove cigarette, you have to prepare suitable cloves and tobacco, as well as a ‘special sauce’.
First, the kretek maker will adjust the ratio of clove and tobacco before making the blend. Typically, there will be 20-40 percent grounded clove or clove oil and 60-80 percent tobacco. Later on, the kretek maker will assess which tobacco goes well with the clove. There can be up to 30 different kinds of tobacco in the mixture.
After blending the clove and tobacco according to the ratio, a kretek maker will make a ‘special sauce’ that is created by mixing different types of spice, herb, and fruit extract that can increase the clove cigarette’s flavor and aroma.
The ‘special sauce’ is different from one brand to another. In fact, it’s what sets apart the clove cigarettes brands. There will be more than 100 different components inside the ‘special sauce’, such as vanilla, coffee, chocolate, and dried fruit extract.
Afterward, the ‘special sauce’ will be added to the blend before being wrapped with wrapping paper. The kretek maker can skillfully hand-rolled the clove cigarette or operate a machine to roll the kretek.
Before packing the finished product, the kretek maker will sometimes put artificial sweetener on the wrapping paper to add a sweet taste to the clove cigarette. Typically the sweetener is saccharine.
Reflect the Cultural Heritage While Smoking a Stick of Clove Cigarette!
Tempted to enjoy a stick of kretek? No need to search far away! You can surf the internet and visit Clove Cigarettes Online! The online store has been providing various clove cigarette brands for smokers from all over the world since 2009.
So, you don’t have to question the authenticity and quality of the clove cigarettes that they are selling. You can simply search for the kretek that suits your taste, from Gudang Garam to the iconic Djarum brand in Clove Cigarettes Online.
Although, make sure that your state permits you to have and consume clove cigarettes before purchasing one!