Kretek History

The Story of Kretek, the Cigarette Made of Cloves

Are you in love with clove cigarettes? It is an illegal cigarette in the U.S. However, if you visit the country where it was born, Indonesia, you will have a chance to enjoy it freely.

It’s known as kretek cigarette. And, it’s widely spread in the whole country, so you can easily find any type of kretek cigarette and buy it.

But, have you ever wondered how this delicious clove cigarette made for the first time.

image: Kompasiana

The History Kretek

Kretek history is actually far from smoking and cigarette. This cigarette came from Java Island. In the beginning, the clove was used for medicinal purpose.

And, the one who was mixing the cloves, tobacco and other ingredients into a kretek cigarette is Haji Djamhari.

Originally, Haji Djamhari mixes the cloves and tobacco for treating his health problem, which is Asthma and chest pain.

The usage of cloves oil for treating this health problem was pretty common at that time.

The oil is applying it directly on the chest to ease the pain. Haji Djamhari has an idea to mix it with tobacco and burn it. Then, inhale the smoke coming from it for treatment.

The first kretek history that comes from Haji Djamhari started in the early 19th century. He was the first person that invented this way to use cloves and tobacco.

It’s also matched with the first era that cloves were known widely in Java Island, which is around 1870 to 1880. He started using it for treatment around that year, even though he died in 1890.

After Haji Djamhari died, the method was spread and used by many people to create this unique kretek cigarette.


Actually, the smoking cigarette has been the part of Javanese culture. According to the historical record, when Dutch come to Indonesia in the 16th century, there were many people smoking a cigarette at that time.

The shape of the cigarette at that time was similar to the kretek cigarette you can find today. It doesn’t have a filter and it uses the tobacco leaf as the paper to roll the ingredients.

Kretek history is still continuing until today. Although many people love to smoke the white cigarette, the Kretek still has its own fans. In fact, one of the biggest cigarette manufacturers, Gudang Garam, has clove cigarette as their main product.

So, we can say that the history of kretek keeps living, and maybe changing in the future.


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