Too often, the tea room is also my only smoking heaven... due to the marriage certificate which I signed: "I agreed to confine my smoking habits inside our home to a small area...." This passed weekend, during my one-and-a-half relaxing moment, my smoke once again enlightened me about tea drinking.
Cigar, like Raw puerh should be aged. This has been a fact outside the US. because of the US. embargo to Cuba, most smokers in the US could only enjoy Pure Dominican Republic as the closest alternative to fine Cuban. The gage and length of a stick usually determines the amount of time to consume one. The thicker the gage the longer it takes. I normally consume at least one a day, and my choice is usually a Robusto 5 1/4 x 52 which lasts for an hr/10 mins to 2 hrs. Funny to say, a tea session for me also equals around an 1 hr to 1 1/2.
Why do we age cigar and what is the difference between Cuban and DR? These are the heated topics in the US cigar circule. Like Puerh, most fine cigars have to be aged to marry and refine its flavor and balance. It also went through aging periods like puerh:
1. First consuming period - Production to 3rd week.
2. Sick period 1st month - 6 months.
3. 1st maturation period around 5 yrs.
4. 2nd Maturation period 15-25 yrs.
5. 3rd Maturation period 50+ yrs.
A good cigar is a combinations of 3 materials: Filler, Binder and Wrapper. Like good receipt puerh, for example 8582 from 1982, is also a combination of a couple of mountain and grades, mostly medium and spring harvest. If you drink a newly made 8582, it is bitter, astringent, unbalance and rough. Same as a Cuban Montecristo Number 2, which has a range of 1 yr - 5 yrs aged layers, if consumed in the first yr, the ashes are dark and rough, powerful but unbalance. But if you have a 1982 Monti 2, it will be heaven on earth. Ashes are light grey and the draw and body is as fine as a good Bordeaux from the 80s. Paring both 8582 and Monti 2 will be quite an experience.
If you try to age a DR cigar for over 10 yrs., it losses a lot of aroma, body and complexity, and ashes will be snow white, but its almost like drinking a lowland plantation harvest puerh, which had been aged for 10+ yrs. flat, sweet but without complexity. Something about the Cuban Terroir and the way they process the leaves, which gives an edge like a fine wild Yiwu.
My choice on a snowing Sat. was a Winston Churchill (by Davidoff) Number 10. The cigar had been aged at least 3 yrs before being released to the market. I am paring with a Yiwu 06 spring harvest. Like the Yiwu, it started off with a floral and mild body, and gradually the kicks come in around 2/3 stage. Feeling the harshest from the smoke and the vigor body of the Yiwu, I decided to tone them down by using water boiled from a new tetsubin using wood burning fire. It took a full pot to boil in less then 3 mins. and the Cast iron kettle kept it hot for another 30 mins! The tea makes a scholastic turns, smoother texture, full body and complex, which you can kind of taste every layers from the high to the low tone of the tea. Moreover, it helps to balance back the spicy, cider, full leather taste of the smoke! Loving it. The stages and timing of the full sessions work like clockworks, playing the balance and evening out each other flaws. Hope Michael could appreciate this kind of paring on our next tea meeting?
Reference: Ron NEE - "An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Post-Revolution Havana Cigars", Tang SeeHu - Puer Tea