Front sheet, Maduro, Havana, shadow sheet? It's all whole leaf tobacco, and in this article I explain the best practices for handling and storing whole leaf tobacco. Finally, I'll also provide a link to a handy video tutorial on handling and storing whole sheets.
When you order whole leaf tobacco wholesale by the pound, it usually arrives in packages of fresh leaves somewhat folded together. Shipped in a plastic bag with holes punched for ventilation. The same bag can be used for storage as needed. If you do get the leaves wet, let them dry a bit before putting them in the bag.
To fully free the front leaves from the bunch, you'll need to lightly mist it with something cheap like a spray bottle from a hardware store. You can also use damp paper towels to absorb moisture from the entire tobacco leaf. Some leaves in the middle of the cluster may still be a bit dry in some areas. Moisturizing the frontal lobe is also known as reorganizing it...it prepares it for use by restoring vitality to the flesh of the leaf, making it supple and pleasant to roll. My friend likens tobacco leaves to a sponge, which absorbs water well and dries, but is still usable after re-wetting. Whatever you do, make sure you don't seal the wet leaves in the bag for too long, or you might stain them with mildew. But short-term storage should be fine, so you can take it with you or mail it to someone.
Whole tobacco leaf is valuable because it can be stored for a long time without spoiling. To store for such a long time, the leaves must be completely dry. As you can see in my handy video tutorial (video link is provided in the resource box below), you will notice that when the frontal lobe is completely dry, it becomes brittle and breaks easily. Spray water on a dry leaf and in 15 minutes or more it will be fully pliable again and like new. (In some cases, you may need to spray a bit more if the sheets curl or fold into other sheets.) Once it's pliable, you can fold it up and store it in a small zip-lock bag or similar pocket-sized bags.
For long-term storage of whole tobacco leaves, make sure they are dry and properly sealed. Store front sheets in a cool, dark, and dry place for best quality preservation.
Why I like whole leaf tobacco, why do you?
The proper way to use a rolled cigar is a tradition of West Indian and Caribbean cultures. Whole tobacco leaves are an all-natural alternative to paper cigars, cigarillos, and commercially produced cigars. Many premium cigar makers today hand-roll their products using whole leaf tobacco. Whole leaf tobacco is also unadulterated with the thousands of chemicals that commercial tobacco companies add to their products.