Tambolaka Natural Tobaccos Tambolaka Pipe Tobacco

Indonesian farmers toil in their islands' rich limestone soils to grow their flavorful tobacco leaves. After harvesting and air drying the leaves the unique aging process begins. The villagers roll the leaves into 10 foot long sticks of pure tobacco which they then bind using hand made cord to protect from the outside air. They then put these sticks inside their primitive huts and store them for 5 years as the tobacco becomes richer by the day. After aging, this tobacco is cut into three or ten inch sticks for sale as pipe tobacco, as well as being used as a component in Indonesian made cigars, such as Tambo Cigars.


Brand Tambolaka Natural Tobaccos
Blended By  
Manufactured By  
Blend Type Burley Based
Contents Burley, Cigar Leaf
Cut Rope
Packaging 100g Pouch
Country Indonesia
Production Currently available


Very Strong
Extremely Mild -> Overwhelming
None Detected
None Detected -> Extra Strong
Room Note
Tolerable to Strong
Unnoticeable -> Overwhelming
Extremely Mild (Flat) -> Overwhelming

Average Rating

3.04 / 4





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Displaying 1 - 11 of 24 Reviews
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Oct 26, 2014 Very Strong None Detected Full Strong
This tobacco is what caused me to shift from cigars to the pipe. Pure rich tobacco with a kick that cigars never had. I got the ready rubbed but would have preferred the arduous prep work the sticks would have demaned. Not an everyday tobacco. About once a week I'll fire up a tiny bowl of this, some rope, 5 Brothers, or SG 1792 flake for an N bomb. Mostly looking for Lat bombs, but need variety in my butt-kickers. Oh, don't mix this with 5 Brothers. Strong, but nasty tasting.
Pipe Used: briar & cob
PurchasedFrom: 4Noggins
Age When Smoked: Fresh & 6 months
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Apr 06, 2012 Very Strong None Detected Very Full Very Strong
I got this as a gift and it was already fully rubbed out and fairly moist. I'm not sure whether to be pleased at this or to feel cheated of all the prep work! 🙂 I've had this 3 oz for close to six months and it's been fun finding its strengths.

At any rate, this stuff took some experimentation with respect to the proper moisture for smoking. I found that I preferred it less dry than I predicted. With some moisture, I got a nice soft smoke with excellent body and a huge amount of strength. This is probably the strongest tobacco I've ever smoked. Stronger yet much smoother than the various black ropes I've tried, without their massive harshness. The flavor was exceedingly deep. I found no flavors aside from good honest tobacco. Some cigar notes but it didn't really taste like any cigar I've ever had. Smoked straight, this is a bit too much of a good thing. But blended with other tobaccos, particular OTC's, this shines. Kentucky Club Mild is a nice burley but mixed 80/20 with Tambolaka, it crosses into excellence. Needs a lot of time to meld, however. I enjoyed my time with this one and may pick up some more. A pound will probably last my lifetime!
12 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Oct 27, 2015 Overwhelming None Detected Full Tolerable to Strong
Years ago, I was asked on an online forum group to give my opinion of this tobacco after a large group purchase made there. I still stand by this review today...

The following is my experience smoking Tambolaka pipe tobacco purchased in the group purchase here. I wrote this as soon as possible, so that my feelings and observations would be fresh in my mind. And before I lost my nerve. This is just my experience. Your milage may vary...

First Impressions:

Wow. This is a tobacco? At first glance what I see in this bag (yes bag - not stick) doesn't appear to be traditional tobacco at all. This looks, feels and somewhat smells like tree bark. Dark, hard and black. It has a smell that's somewhat vegetal, and just a whiff of barnyard. Very dry, even in the sealed bag. (It's my understanding that this is ready to smoke, as is.) You won't rub this out like a flake or a bar - you'll need to break and crumble it like you would small twigs.


I chose my smallest no-name italian briar. I don't know Dunhill sizes, but as I'm a cob man you could say that this pipe is about the size of an MM Pony. The pipe has been recently cleaned and reamed, so there should be no ghosting of even the burley blends smoked in it. It's a good little pipe: well drilled, and easy to pass a cleaner from stem to bowl bottom. It usually smokes fairly cool as long as I don't try to hurry things. A sipper rather than a puffer. And yes, I chose this pipe in expectation of Tambolaka's reputation.

The Tobacco:

I take a pinch from the bag and spread it out on my desk top (formica) to see what I've got. Again, dark, black and hard. No stems to speak of, but within those leaves are some fairly noticeable veins. I decide that if I don't break things up, there's a good chance that tobacco this dense will plug and block the airway. I break up the separated pieces into pieces about 1/4 to 3/8 inch in size. I gravity fed the tobacco to the top of the bowl and lightly press down. There's some give, but not much. I fill the bowl the rest of the way with finer pieces, and give the pipe a test draw. Seems good - not too loose, not too tight.

The Smoke:

I give it a charring light, just to warm things up. No rise in the tobacco - it just sits there and smolders. The first taste is earthy and plain. I suddenly realise that even the plainest of regular pipe tobacco shows a subtle sweetness not present with this. Second light and it catches and burns. The first mouthful feels thick and rich in the mouth. You can almost feel a weightiness to it. I snork it and the smoke is strong, but doesn't have the sting I sometimes get from virginia's and perique. I'm still trying to wrap my head around what I'm tasting. It's very hard to put into words. It's definely different than anything I've smoked before. A woody taste - not hickory. Maybe a bit of oak? Again, I'm at a loss. Now I'm starting to feel something. I'd eaten a full lunch before sitting down with this - again, that reputation. A little light headed, which is something that I don't mind. I actually enjoy a little nicotine buzz from time to time. It can be very relaxing. I set the pipe down and try to enjoy that glow.

Except it's getting stronger. I'd been retrohaling (snorking) almost every puff trying to get a good idea of the taste. That was a mistake. About 2 minutes after setting the pipe down, I notice that I'm salivating like a starving man staring through a Delicatessen window. Except, I'm not hungry. Matter of fact, the thought of food is making me a little queasy. I'm no 'virgin' to nicotine, so I know what's going on. It's just never happened this FAST before. I head for the bathroom to throw some water in my face. I look in the mirror, and while I'm not actually green, I am a 'lighter shade of pale'. No sugared drinks in the house, but do have a candy bar chillin' in the fridge, so I grab it and take a bite. It doesn't taste so great, but I know that I have to get my blood sugar up. I step out the back door to get some fresh air. Luckily it's been a nice day - cool, not cold. Still a little queasy, but better...


It's been about two and a half hours now. The pipe is sitting in it's stand. I guess I must of smoked a little more than half of the bowl. I have absolutely no desire to finish it.

Did it taste bad? No. Did it taste good? I'm not sure - the jury is still out on what the flavor really was. Was it fun? Hell no. I gave up that kind of 'fun' in my early years (1960's) of wacky weed and roller coasters.

Will I keep it? Sure. But I sure as heck ain't ever gonna smoke it 'straight' again. I'll no doubt use it as a mixer for bumping up a boring bowl. But at that rate I figure a 100 gram bag ought to last me about 10 years...
9 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Oct 06, 2012 Overwhelming None Detected Extra Full Extra Strong
Industrial strength kick; probably the most potent "product" I've smoked since a Led Zeppelin concert back in '69!

This blend was crafted in the darkest dungeons of Mordor by Sauron himself. I would call it "Orc-Weed". Kind of like Parodi cigars on steroids.

Stronger than XX Black Rope--pure tobacco taste with no casing. Be seated at all times & wear a crash helmet. G-Force is about G4. An oxygen supply and heart monitor are also recommended...N kick is over the top.
Pipe Used: Torpedo Cigar Pipe
Age When Smoked: 2012
8 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
May 28, 2014 Strong None Detected Full Strong
I wasn't too crazy about this one. It had that industrial feel to it not unlike Brown Rope No. 4 to my taster, but a little easier to maintain the light than the former. I was given quite a bit of this as my benefactor also did not like it. I smoked about 4 bowls of this and paid it forward by sending the rest to a forum buddy who I often trade with.

It is hard to explain, but if you like BRN4 or even 1792, then you will probably like this. Those blends leave a weird taste sensation to me. I use the term Industrial, because it hangs on my pallet the way the scents of diesel and grease do. I just don't like this kind of a smoke.

Of the positives, it does have a heck of a nicotine kick, but there are several blends that I can smoke to get this kick with a more enjoyable taste. In summary, somewhat recommended for those that like the aforementioned blends. Beginners stay away.
6 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 18, 2012 Strong None Detected Extra Full Strong
This tobacco comes close to being my holy grail. I haven't tried as large a range of tobaccos as many pipe smokers, mainly because I haven't had much access: I live in Indonesia, where there are very few pipe smokers. Some of the OTC blends are available, such as Captain Black, but if that's all that's on offer, I'd rather smoke a straight non-premium Indonesian cigar. For a while I had supplies sent from C and D, but Customs have made that more and more difficult.

So, I was delighted to see this tobacco available locally. Not just available locally, but PRODUCED locally. The world's best pipe tobacco, and we never knew it! It's a strong, powerful, rich, complex tobacco that starts off very soft but builds up to a crescendo.

As some have noted, it might be too strong for all day use. The only English style tobacco I've seen in Jakarta is TG Fox and Hound, which I don't like by itself at all. But I mixed one part F and H with two parts Tambolaka, and it tastes great! The burley and virginia become condiment tobaccos to give the tambolaka more complexity. I really like it like this, and it's slightly milder in taste and nicotine content. If I had access to other light English tobaccos, I'd experiment with other blends with the Tambolaka, but this will do for now.

An earlier experiment blending Tambolaka with Borkum Riff Ultra Mild was a dismal failure. Yuck. I thought that the Tambolaka would overwhelm the BR and make it inoffensive, but it still managed to insinuate itself unpleasantly into the conversation. I chucked the mix out.
5 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Feb 17, 2017 Very Strong None Detected Very Full Pleasant to Tolerable
I was surprised to see that I had never reviewed Tambolaka before. It was about 3 years ago that I last had any (is it still being made?) and while I hated the prep, I absolutely loved the flavor and was excited when they started coming out with the pouches containing the rubbed out version. Perhaps the most full flavored (and full strength, too), Burley that I have ever smoked. The touch of cigar leaf was certainly noticeable, and I think that the combination of the two is what made this one a home run for me. Mysterious in where it comes from and how it is prepared, but that made the effect even more exciting. I ran out of mine long ago and still recall that deep flavor. And yes, a time or two while smoking Tambolaka, I did get the hiccups. Didn't stop me from smoking more though.
4 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Aug 06, 2016 Strong None Detected Full Strong
Summary: a strong Burley flavor with the darker tastes of Perique, almost dark-fired in its strength of taste.

In theory, this blend consists of strong Burley pressed and kept from air, which creates a slight fermentation effect. In flavor, this manifests as a rich tasting tobacco a slight spiciness, but also the dark taste of smoked tobacco without the overtones of smoke. This is rich and dark, full of flavor, which at first seems raw but then melds into caramel overtones which hover above a full and aged flavor. The presence of Nicotine is strong, but not overwhelming, about on the level of a UK rope, and as the bowl progresses, the dark edges meld into a warm and sustaining flavor which complements the easy burning and slightly spicy, full harvest taste of this tobacco. For me, this would be an all-day blend, with minimal bite and an internal density of flavor that makes every bowl a series of experiences, much like Semois and other highly refined Burleys. I hope this becomes available on a regular basis because I would smoke it all the time.

Thanks to Pipes Magazine forum member "bonehed" for this sample.
3 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jul 18, 2012 Extremely Strong None Detected Extra Full Extra Strong
This stuff is not for the faint of heart. When I first received a couple sticks of it my wife was curious and she wanted to know what is was. After I explained she looked at it like it was a loaded diaper and asked me to not steam it or smoke it in the house. During the steaming process it turned black and smelled like the forementioned loaded diaper. I wonder if the Indonesians soak it in monkey pi$$ before they wrap it with sisal. It is much stronger than anything I've ever smoked and the nic hit knocks me on my rump. I don't regret tryintg it but I definitely won't be buying any more of it.
3 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Apr 02, 2012 Very Strong None Detected Full Tolerable to Strong
I was gifted a generous size sample from a friend that enjoys strong tobacco, I am not sure of the age of the sample. I smoked Tambolaka very dry. I must admit that it took me a while to dig in as it has the worst pouch scent I have ever encountered and I have smoked a ton of different blends. As an avid, twenty year cigar smoker prior to my pipe life, I don't get the cigar comparison here as I find it tastes nothing like any cigar I have ever smoked. It may be just my body chemistry, but I found the first part of the bowl to have an underlying sweetness and no bite. It is very strong as others have noted. I find it much stronger than the Gawith Hoggarth ropes that I smoke on occasion. The flavors are deep and build throughout the bowl. Tambolaka is pure tobacco, plain and simple. It's not bad, and I enjoy stronger tobaccos, but there are just so many other blends on the market that are far more interesting. If you have very limited pipe tobacco options or your main reason for enjoying a pipe is Lady N, than this tobacco will fill the bill. At best, Tambolaka would be a once in a blue moon smoke for me.
3 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Apr 04, 2012 Medium to Strong Very Mild Full Tolerable
_Some_ of the reviewers of this tobacco have only reviewed this one tobacco. They had a lot to say about Tambo, but NOTHING to say about any other tobacco. Hmmm....

Tambo is okay. A robust enough smoke. A little bit of hassle to prepare, but not much more effort than plug.

If it was widely available then I dare say it'd have a following, but it's not worth jumping through the hoops involved in ordering from Indonesia.
2 people found this review helpful.
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