Okay, this may sound a little weird, but they do say that necessity is the mother of invention.
As the Government in Australia continues to tax tobacco products at an ever-increasing rate (50g of pipe tobacco now costs between $36-40 here) and also continues to impose new restrictions upon smoking tobacco, one begins to look around for alternatives…
Now, there are illegal alternatives, which have side effects that this little pipe smoker rules out entirely, but there are other herbs that you can “put in your pipe and smoke it” which are perfectly legal, cheap and readily available – if you are willing to experiment.
A little searching on the web has led me to try two such alternatives recently. I have not tried these on their own, but mix them with my pipe tobacco in a 50/50 mix with quite good results.
The first is growing in my garden: Lemon Balm. Dried slightly (not a crumble), lemon balm can be cut up, rubbed and mixed with pipe tobacco for a nice smoke.
But even more successful is (wait for it): TEA!
No joke! A good long leaf ceylon tea, put in a container with a bit of orange peel until it has the same moistness as tobacco, then mixed with regular tobacco produces a very good smoke – which is, I have discovered, even longer lasting than a regular pipe! It has less of a tobacco smell (as expected), and the taste is just slightly bitter compared to pure pipe tobacco. Tea is a cured leaf, so it is perhaps not surprising that it has smokable properties.
One note: I use a meershaum pipe rather than a wooden one for this. I don’t know how these would go in a wooden pipe. It might burn the pipe, or leave an unwanted taste, although I have not noticed that tea burns at a higher temperature than normal tobacco (a little on the contrary, actually). It also has the added benefit of producing a drier pipe than pure tobacco. It seems to pack better too – a looser pack which gives better flow.
Until the Government decides to put an extra tax on tea, it seems that I have found a way continuing to enjoy my recreational smoking at a level that I can afford.