Over the years, I have put together an entire collection of cigars with wrappers of various discolouration. I’m not talking about cigar bloom, an effect that we discussed in the 1/2010 issue and that can be removed from the wrapper. Discolouration of the wrapper cannot be removed since it is usually a pigment fault in the leaf.
Green or greyish green stains, yellow or light brown spots (large and small), whitish-grey discolouration, in rare cases even black dots – the range is broad. For the assessment and description of the stains, it is worth consulting the book by the agricultural engineer Didier Houvenaghel, “The Cigar from Soil to Soul” – a treasure trove for anyone who wants to examine this topic in more depth. In terms of content, the following paragraph is based on the comments in his book on this topic.
Green stains are not mould, as is often wrongly assumed, but are due to chlorophyll, the substance that give plants their colour. If the tobacco is dried at too high a temperature and too low a humidity, the drying process is too quick and the chlorophyll is not broken down completely. If the wrapper has fine cracks, the chlorophyll concentrates there and can likewise no longer be completely broken down. Personally, I am unable to identify a negative influence of this discolouration on taste.
Yellow Stains (see top picture) are due to insufficient humidity during the drying process in the barn. This leads to a partial concentration of yellow pigments which survive fermentation and constitute a wrapper fault. Such a wrapper should actually not be used.
Black Stains are due to excessive humidity during drying. The sugar is not broken down entirely and the initially lighter pigments turn black. The high sugar content with this kind of discolouration can lead to the impression of excessive “freshness” during the smoke, and can also give rise to an unpleasant scratching feeling in the throat.
White stains with a blurred outline directly next to a leaf vein and of considerable size (up to 10 mm) are the result of the green tobacco leaves being affected by blue mould. Blue mould is a risk for the green plant but irrelevant for the fermented tobacco and has no negative effects on the burn or the taste. Small white stains that look like sesame seeds are a sign that the green leaf was infected with the cercospora fungus, which feeds on the chlorophyll in the leaf without affecting its integrity or having any significant effects on taste.
This article was published in the Cigar Journal Autumn Edition 2012. Read more