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The Formal Beginnings of Sampoerna

... to his line of specialist products,
he produced low-priced cigarettes,
such as Djangan Lawan, made from
less expensive tobacco and containing
more artificial flavours and fragrances.
He often observed that farmers had
plenty of money for cigarettes after the
harvest, but as their savings dwindled
during the year, they had to buy less
expensive products and he too wanted
to supply that market.

Despite creating lower priced cigarettes for the masses, Seeng Tee’s true business
focus was the manufacture and sale of higher priced cigarettes made from the finest
tobacco and natural spices. The core of the family’s production would continue to be
the white cigarettes that were rolled in white or cream coloured paper while the clove
cigarettes were rolled in myriad of colours, including black, red, green, and orange.
The use of coloured cigarette paper was the fashion of the day, adopted by all the
central Java kretek factories. However, the practice of using coloured paper may have
been more driven by the lack of proper imported cigarette paper than by the desire of
the kretek manufacturers to differentiate their products from the white tobacco brands.

Seeng Tee’s responsibilities gradually shifted from selling
with his wife in the stall to sourcing the raw materials for
the cigarettes, including the packaging, tobacco and spices,
particularly cloves. Initially, the tobacco was sourced from
Madura with the cloves coming from Zanzibar, sourced through
the local spice traders. While the Indonesian Manado cloves were
less expensive, Seeng Tee felt that they did not provide the same
smooth taste as the more expensive Zanzibar cloves. His blend
formula for Dji Sam Soe allowed only Zanzibar cloves in the original Dji Sam Soe blend. However, as the quality of Indonesian
cloves harvesting improved, the use of Indonesian cloves was
allowed to be used in the family’s blend specifications.

The white machine-made cigarette brands
Seeng Tee and Tjiang Nio made included the
brands Sampoerna Star, Summer Palace, and
Statue of Liberty. Sampoerna Star was a filtered
product, one of the first filtered cigarettes in
Indonesia. The clove or kretek product names
were simply the blend numbers of the product,
such as “123”, “720”, and “678”.

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