Clove cigarette is popular among cigarette lovers across the world. It brings out a different flavor and scent from the regular tobacco cigarette. But, a clove cigarette isn’t just a cigarette with a blend of clove.
There is a lot of history and fascinating facts about this native Indonesian cigarette aside from its complex taste and aroma. If you are a fan of kretek, then you have to know these clove cigarettes facts before bragging about it to your friends!
1. Clove Isn’t the Only Ingredient!
Despite its name, there is more than just a simple clove inside a kretek or clove cigarette. To make a clove cigarette, a kretek maker will blend approximately 60-80 percent tobacco and 20-40 percent chopped cloves or clove oil.
They will select the most suitable type of tobacco that matches the exquisite taste of their chosen clove. In fact, there can be 20-30 different types of tobacco inside a clove cigarette.
After blending the two spices, a kretek maker will pour in a ‘special sauce’ that consists of various fruit, spices, and herb extracts into the mixture. Each brand will have a different recipe for the sauce. It is what makes every brand has a unique flavor and scent.
The special sauce can have up to 100 different ingredients, such as coffee, chocolate, dried fruits, cinnamon, nutmeg, and so on.
2. The Secret Behind the Soothing Effect of Clove Cigarettes
If you have smoked a clove cigarette, you will notice the soothing and cooling effect of the exotic cigarette. In fact, it’s one of the things that people tend to enjoy when puffing a kretek.
The secret behind the soothing effect of a clove cigarette isn’t additional menthol or mint flavoring, but the clove itself! Inside the spice is a chemical substance called eugenol that has gives a numbing and anesthetic effect when consumed.
The substance allows you to smoke clove cigarettes longer and in a large amount. It dampens the harsh smoke from the cigarette by numbing the throat. Unfortunately, eugenol can increase your chance of damaging your gag reflex and lungs when consumed regularly.
3. The Origin of ‘Kretek’ Word
The word ‘kretek’ comes from the sound of the burning clove cigarette. When you light the cigarette, you will hear a ‘kretek’ or ‘kemeretek’ sound that comes from the burning spices in the cigarette.
While enjoying the taste and aroma of the exotic clove cigarette, you can also calm your mind by hearing the ‘kretek’ sound from the cigarette.
4. Kudus is The Birthplace of Clove Cigarettes
Indonesia is the origin country of clove cigarettes, but did you know the exact city where this fascinating cigarette was born?
Clove cigarette was first made in Kudus, Central Java. The name ‘Kudus’ comes from the Arabic language which means holy. The city has been famous as a pilgrimage site for Muslims.
When you visit Kudus, make sure to visit a museum dedicated to kretek to broaden your knowledge about the clove cigarette.
5. Klobot is First Original Clove Cigarette Wrapper
A long time ago, before the invention of paper, a blend of clove and tobacco was wrapped not on paper, but in dried corn husks, or in the Javanese language, klobot. These days, it’s quite a rare sight to find a klobot clove cigarette type.
Although, you can still see the original version of kretek in the rural area of East Java. The klobot clove cigarette is usually enjoyed by the older male generations in the region. This type of kretek is typically produced manually by elderly females.
6. Women Are the Main Workers in the Clove Cigarette Industry
Cigarettes have been associated with a ‘masculine’ type of product. In Indonesia, you can spot more male smokers than females.
Interestingly, clove cigarettes, especially the hand-rolled type, are dominantly made by females instead of males. In fact, the clove cigarette industry remains one of the largest businesses that mainly hire women.
The process of producing a clove cigarette is traditionally classified as a “women’s work” and the workers are typically paid on a piece-rate basis. One female laborer can make approximately 5000-8000 sticks of clove cigarettes per day.
7. Clove Cigarette Was Marketed as a Medicine
Clove cigarette was first produced in 1880 and was sold as a cure for asthma and sore throat due to its medicinal properties.
One of the origin stories of clove cigarette mentioned that Haji Djamari, one of the people who is thought to create kretek, used clove oil to soothe his chest pain. Later on, he blended clove and tobacco and then rolled it into a cigarette using dried corn husk.
After consuming the clove cigarette, his chest pain began to disappear. Kudus people started to see the clove cigarette as a ‘medicine cigarette’.
8. The Sweet Taste on the Tip of Clove Cigarettes
When you put a stick of clove cigarette on your lips, you will notice a hint of sweetness on the tip. This isn’t your imagination since most clove cigarette makers lace artificial sweeteners, such as saccharin, on the wrapping paper to add a subtle sweetness to the kretek.
9. Clove Cigarette Has a Higher Percentage of Tar, Nicotine, and Carbon Monoxide Level
Contrary to popular belief, clove cigarette has a higher percentage of tar, nicotine, and carbon monoxide content than conventional tobacco cigarettes. Despite having cloves in it, it doesn’t cover the health risks that a kretek possesses.
Consuming clove cigarettes regularly can increase your risks of having health problems, such as lung and respiratory issues as well as dental decay. This is one of the reasons why the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned clove cigarettes in the United States.
10. Djarum Isn’t the Only Big Clove Cigarette Brand
Djarum has been one of the biggest and most popular clove cigarette brands in the United States, but there are so many more you can try besides the iconic Djarum Black clove cigarettes.
You can try Sampoerna and Gudang Garam’s clove cigarette products which are also a favorite among Indonesian cigarette lovers.