Q: I read something about how removing the flowers from a tobacco plant as it grows gives the leaves a stronger flavor. Is this true?
– Rich Pierson in Flanders, NJ
A: Absolutely. Not only is the tobacco stronger, but sweeter, too. This flower removal method is called “desflorado” or “topping.”
Here’s how it works: Tobacco plants produce these beautiful white & violet flowers that bloom at the very top the plant. The flowers contain the pollen and the seed that are necessary for the plant to reproduce. Therefore, most of the plant’s nutrients are used to make flowers.
By “deflowering” the plant, hence the term desflorado, the plant’s nutrients and sugars are concentrated directly to the leaves. Once the leaves have been harvested, processed, and rolled, the result is a cigar with more potency. The earlier the flowers are topped, the more strength the tobacco will have, which is why some farmers remove the flowers at the budding stage.
A good example of a cigar made with leaves harvested using the desflorado method is the 90 Miles Reserva Selecta from Flor de Gonzalez. Compare it to their original 90 Miles blend and you’ll taste quite a difference.