I'm glad you asked this question because some cigar leaf, despite what some makers would like you to believe, is cased. Cigar leaf, as we know, is air cured and "Sweated" or "Fermented". The air curing produces a high Ph. and the sweating produces Ammonia. an initial careful fermentation and a Long careful aging period will take care of the Ammonia. Not sure what effect aging has on Ph., but many manufacturers use a secret recipe they call "Bethune" or "Betune" to bind any ammonia and to balance the Ph. There are many different recipes and reasons for using Bethune-
1) To remove/bind residual "nasties".
2) To impart a homogeneous character to the leaf from crop to crop
3) In extreme cases, dyes are added to the solution to give mottled or imperfect leaf a uniform color.
Essentially, like with pipe tobacco casings, Bethune is acid based. I've heard of bethune being comprised of mixtures of Coffee, Citrus juices and rinds, Red wines, mineral water, cocoa etc.
What you do with your cigar leaf depends greatly on whether it has been sweated or fermented yet. If it has, then a simple mist with lime juice will get you where you want to be and help bring out that cigar flavor. If it isn't? Then you will need to sweat it (Pain in the :. So my suggestion is to try to acquire sweated leaf.
The small amount of cigar leaf I purchase is ready to go. I've tried sweating on a home basis and for my purposes it's a huge pain in the ::....but in your more humid climate it may be a piece of cake.
You won't find much about Bethune online. Anecdotal stuff but no recipes. It's extremely hush hush.Thank you for your response, @Ernie Q! I doubt that these leaves were sweated. I suppose I will have to age them quite a bit first before preparing them for pipe smoking. I will have to look up Bethune, this is the first time I've heard of it! Thanks again for sharing your knowledge!