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AMBER LEAF HAND-ROLLING TOBACCO
Member Name: GentleGenius
Advantages: Cheap, with a little tweaking it can help reduce nicotine intake
Disadvantages: Smoking is BAD and extremely, extremely addictive!! Don't start!! The aniseed sensation.
DISCLAIMER.....What I write below isn't intended as encouragement for all and sundry to dash out and start smoking, as it is my opinion that it's better not to succumb to the habit in the first place - nor is this an article condoning smoking. What I say is merely a review on a product that I use occasionally, and I hope will be objectively accepted as such by everyone. Thanks!
I began to roll my own cigarettes a few months ago, as more of an economy drive than anything. OK some people may say STOP SMOKING to economise even further, but for some of us that isn't an immediate option, because our addiction is far too powerful to overcome, despite many years of trying to quit.
Most of the time I have been using Golden Virginia, but recently I thought I'd try Amber Leaf, as it is a little cheaper than Golden Virginia and the other brands, plus it came recommended by a friend who has also begun to roll her own in an attempt to save a little cash.
Rather nervous, because I am one of these smokers who can't tolerate strong tobacco and bearing in mind the friend who recommended the product to me finds Golden Virginia too mild for her, I decided to take the plunge and buy a packet of Amber Leaf.
Amber Leaf is available as follows (prices are approximate and dependent on where bought - the prices I have given are from Sainsburys @ 24.10.08):-
25g pack (£5.00) - plastic pouch of tobacco and 50 rolling papers
50g pack (£9.91) - plastic pouch of tobacco and 100 rolling papers
12.5 pack (£2.61) - cigarette packet style carton containing a plastic pouch of tobacco and 50 rolling papers
50g pack (£9.99) - metal tin containing a 50g pouch of tobacco and 100 rolling papers
(By the way, the packaging design on the Amber Leaf I have bought is different to that shown in the image above)
The general design on the pouches, cigarette style packets and tins of Amber Leaf is a rather yukky yellow with a greenish tinge. On the front centre of the packaging is an oval shape which is various shades of green, brown and yellow, bearing the words "Amber Leaf" in white lettering contained within a green coloured strip, over the top of the oval shape. An image of a few brown tobacco leaves (which look like marijuana leaves to me!!) is in the centre of the oval, with a few yellow spikes spreading outwards that I assume represent sunbeams. The bottom green strip of the oval shape contains the words "Finest Virginia Hand Rolling Tobacco" in bright yellow block capitals. On the top right-hand corner of each container/carton/pouch is a blue triangular strip giving the product weight, and informing that rolling papers are included. There is a large white oblong on the bottom of the front with bold black letters, which sometimes says "smoking kills", and sometimes says "smoking seriously harms you and others around you". The back of the container/carton/pouch shows the manufacturer's (Gallaher Limited) address, a piece of advice that the product is for adult use only, and a long white strip outlined in black, containing large black lettering which says "Protect Children: Don't make them breathe your smoke".
The pouches of Amber Leaf are opened by carefully pulling the seal apart, and unlike some other brands of rolling tobacco, the pouches don't have a wedge-style re-seal device - but there is a small sticky circle of plastic on the top which allows you to fasten the pouch closed. The tobacco inside is a rich, dark tan colour, and is very moist, forming a solid block. The aroma is rather strange and difficult to describe - it has an almost spicy smell that to me strongly resembles aniseed, and I personally don't find it too appealing. The rolling papers are inside of a dark blue, thin card dispenser, and on each pack there is a lateral thinking question to solve - the question is written on the outside, and the answer can be found inside.
Because of the moistness of Amber Leaf, the tobacco needs to be pulled apart and shredded with the fingers, before attempting to roll a cigarette, which is a good sign as it means the tobacco is fresh. Separating the tobacco into a rollable consistency, though a boring task, is easily done - that's if you can stand the smell which is even stronger once the fibres of tobacco are pulled apart ready for rolling.
I use a rolling machine, as I have never grasped the art of rolling cigarettes by hand - I place a mentholated filter at one end of the rolling machine, then arrange a thin, even line of tobacco along the length, and insert a cigarette paper and create the cigarette. The first time I used Amber Leaf, I was a little dubious as to what my feelings would be about the product, mainly because of the smell of the tobacco, which I wasn't impressed with.
The first puff I took of Amber Leaf startled me somewhat - it made my tongue feel very strange, almost as if I was running a scouring pad over the surface. I inhaled and as the smoke hit the back of my throat, I coughed - coughing is something I've never done with Golden Virginia or my old brand of tailor-made cigarettes - and I found the tobacco had a rawness which felt as though I was inhaling something with spikes on. I took a rest at that point, allowed the cigarette to go out, and returned to it later. This time on re-lighting, the experience was much more comfortable, although I still wasn't impressed with the aniseed-ish taste. Later, after I'd smoked a couple more, I went into the kitchen to cook and on returning to my living-room, noticed that the air smelled better than it does after having smoked tailor-made cigarettes, but worse than after using other brands of rolling tobacco. There was a distinct, albeit faint, rather rancid aniseed odour in the room, which I found a little unpleasant.
Because I'm on a cash-saving mission, I persisted with Amber Leaf, and have now got used to the taste and smell, plus it doesn't make me cough any more - also I find I have become so accustomed to the aniseed, that I no longer notice it. I have asked a couple of my non-smoking friends to be honest with me and tell me how Amber Leaf makes ME smell, and they have told me that I smell a lot better than I did when using tailor-made cigarettes, but a little worse than when I smoke Golden Virginia - they both remarked that lately I have an aniseed smell about me.
The one advantage I have found regarding smoking rollups in general (as well as the much lower cost), is that because they go out so quickly, it surely must make them much less of a fire risk, whereas a tailor-made cigarette will continue to burn. I am finding that when one goes out and I re-light it - possibly up to half an hour later - it's as if I'm having another cigarette rather than going back to an old one, and by doing that I've cut the amount of cigarettes I smoke per day by half, as one whole cigarette is now mostly being counted as two. Another saving is that because I personally find Amber Leaf a far stronger tobacco than what my lungs are used to, I am rolling the cigarettes very much thinner than I would with, say, Golden Virginia - so although of course smoking under any conditions or system is always dangerous, I've gone a little way at least towards reducing my overall intake.
I am not going to recommend Amber Leaf - nor would I recommend any other tobacco, as I'm not in the business of urging people to smoke (my advice to anyone, particularly the young, who may be contemplating smoking because they think it looks cool, is a resounding DON'T!!!!!) - but I will just say to all existing smokers who can't or don't want to quit, that in my opinion, Amber Leaf is a cheap tobacco with a slightly harsh feel and a taste which takes some getting used to, but overall is worth it because of the savings made, combined with the possibility of ultimately reducing nicotine intake.
Thanks for reading and I hope it makes sense; the article turned out to be much more difficult to write than I at first anticipated.
Summary: Something worth thinking about switching to if you just can't quit smoking