One of the most well-known products of Myanmar, a cheroot (known locally as Say baw leik or 'mild tobacco cigar') is a cigar rolled with crushed tobacco and chips of dried, fragrant wood. These are rolled tightly between leaves of tha nat phet, a green leaf also known as carbia myxa. A thin stem seasoned with tamarind is often used, and usually a filter of corn husks. Size and strength vary, with the smallest being roughly the size of a cigarette and the largest being six to eight inches long. The proportion of tobacco used seems to be highly variable, as are some of the other ingredients, with seasoned and skilled cheroot rollers each having their own favourite 'recipe'. Apparently the highest class of cheroots, leiks, are rolled using a betel nut palm frond instead of tha nat phet leaf, and are decorated with red bands at the filtered end. These are most often seen at weddings or other public ceremonies, such as the novitiation of a monk.

Nowadays most cheroots are rolled in factories by women making 100 kyats (about 15 cents) per day for their trouble. They roll about a thousand cheroots a day, each one selling in the market for around 5 kyats. Cheroot factories are a standard stop on most package tours of Myanmar, and consist of a group of women sitting on the floor, smoking, chatting and rolling for all they're worth.


Che*root" (?), n. [Tamil shuruttu, prop., a roll.]

A kind of cigar, originally brought from Mania, in the Philippine Islands; now often made of inferior or adulterated tabacco.


© Webster 1913.

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