Here you will find some of the most frequently asked questions about the Los Angeles Pipe Club and pipe smoking in general. Please contact us if you have any ideas for additional entries.
Questions often asked by new pipe smokers
There are a few key items to have in order to enjoy your first time smoking a pipe.
- Pipe – the most obvious out of the list. A corn cob, briar, or meerschaum is fine.
- Soft flame lighter or wood matches – a Bic or similar butane lighter will work fine. Just avoid using a jet lighter you might use to light cigars. Some pipe smokers swear by wood matches but it is down to personal preference.
- Pipe tool – the most popular is referred to as the Czech pipe tool.
- Pipe tobacco – we’ll assume you have chosen a few blends to try. An ounce or two is plenty to determine if it is one you like. But do not discount one the first bowl out. Try it a few times and let it age a few weeks to get the different characteristics from it.
- Pipe cleaners – these are not just for children’s art projects! Use these to clean the pipe after you finish a bowl. Leaving on in to store the pipe.
Typically the most common answer is a corn cob pipe. A good Missouri Meerschaum corn cob can be had for $5 or less. This is a good idea for those wholely unsure if they will like the hobby or not. There is no reason to spend $50-$100 on a good briar pipe to not continue in the hobby.
This is a very subjective thing if one has never smoked a pipe. If you come from a cigar smoking background perhaps a blend with cigar leaf would be a good transition. The best advice is to read up on the various types of tobaccos in blends. Then read reviews of certain blends and pick an ounce or two or each one that appeals to you. A lot of the fun in pipe smoking is the tasting of various blends containing different types of tobacco.
General pipe related questions
Burley– A key tobacco, especially in American blends including Cavendishes. Has high oil and low in sugar content (think of it as the polar opposite of Virginia), burns very cool with a nutty flavor profile. Burkey is known to produce more alkaline, which is the cause of tongue bite. When cased (flavored), the added sugar lowers the likelihood of tongue bite. Being that it has a neutral flavor it accepts casing well.
Virginia– A very common type to see in pipe blends, Virginia has a high sugar content but is very low in oils. This explains why it is known to burn hot yet be low in flavor. Colors are from bright yellow to medium brown, lighter varieties tend to be more of a spiced flavor and the dark colors have a more complex flavor profile. You will see Virginias in most any kind of blends.
Carolina– Much like Virginia, but mellower in flavor, Carolina can lessen the strength of a blend without changing its character.
Maryland– Neutral tobacco common in American blends that is very mild. Often used in cigarette tobacco. Reduces the nutty flavor when blended with Burley.
Orientals or Turkish– Large umbrella terms for many different tobaccos such as Yenidje, Basma, Dubeck, Bashi Bagli, Smyrna, Xanthia etc. Usually large amount of sugar and very fragrant. Staple in English, Balkan and Oriental blends. Sometimes used in cigarettes as well to add unique flavor(s).
Cigar leaf– Frequently used are Connecticut Broadleaf and Cuban-Seed varietals. Can add rich sometimes sweet/spiced flavors to pipe blends.
Latakia– Latakia is culmination of other tobaccos. Syrians use Shek-Al-Bint while Cyprians use tobacco called Smyrna. Cured in huts with fires burning on the floor. Smoke saturates the tobacco changing it to black. While endowing it with a flavor all it’s own. Latakia is an essential condiment tobacco used in English and Balkan blends. It is very popular today in many well known blends. With the civil disorder in Syria currently most blends bought today will most likely contain Cyprian Latakia.
Perique– Not a tobacco, but a process in preparing tobacco. Perique is made from a type of Burley in St. James Parish in Louisiana. Juices are pressed out of the leaf and fermented then added to the tobacco numerous times. Much of which is a tightly held secret of those who grow and produce it. It makes the tobacco a dark reddish brown with a sometimes tart and spicy sweet flavor profile. Many tasting notes claim a peppery and tart flavor is common. It is considered a condiment tobacco since it is used to enhance flavors being that even used sparingly it can really effect a blend.
Question about the club and meetings
For the time being we do not have a paid membership as other clubs do. This will most likely change in the next few months. For the time being you can join the site to take part in the private member forums for free. You will be notified of new posts and can join in on discussions about the club’s future. The actual LAPC meetings will always be free and all are welcome membership or not.
LAPC meetings are very laid back and friendly environments. Newcomers are always welcomed. Many people are weary of showing up to meet a group of strangers or people they have only known online. So we have all been there and understand that hurtle. We’re a nice bunch always eager to share our love of the hobby with others, be they new to it or old timers.