Smoking Technology has advanced in the last 20 years, and thanks for Moore's Law, things are increasing in pace, and becoming cheaper all the time. Today, flavouring the tobacco in cigarettes is becoming old hat. People demand the same luxuries and varieties as the many alcohol and alco-pop products available to buy in stores, and this means diversifying the range by adding new flavours in the form of pop capsules.
What are Pop/Crush/Burst/Beads?
A 'Pop' or 'Burst' capsule is a small ball of flavour which, when installed into a cigarette filter, can be popped by the smoker to release the flavour within - enhancing the smoking experience with the aromas and tastes of the capsules. The capsule themselves are made from a natural gel coating, and inside the gel are the ingredients which make up that flavour.
The most common type of Pop capsule are the Menthol variety. These can be found in 'Switch' cigarettes, where the smoker pops the capsule to switch between normal flavours or a mentholated taste. In some parts of the world, such as Mexico, China and Japan, many national tobacco producers have begun to manufacture 'Double Burst' or Double Pop filters, which contain 2 or more pop capsules, which release different flavours. These include mint and blueberry, mint and grape.
The capsules are made in a professional clinical lab environment, where everyone wears masks, gloves and full anti-bacterial protective garments, so that no germs or anything biological can get into the manufacture process. The final product is then stored in glass jars or plastic containers, which are closed and sealed under clinical conditions.
Each process is slightly different as each variety of capsule contains a different natural food colouring, and also different flavours to make up the taste. The flavours have all been used in the food production sector for many years, and have been tested to ensure there are no side effects. Almost all of the flavours have been chemically synthesised, with only the mint example containing actual mint extract, but you might recognise some of these from your favourite 'fruit flavoured' candys, where they are used to make them taste like fruit. Of course there is a big difference between actual Strawberrys and Strawberry Candy flavours, but the latter is used in Strawberry Milkshake and Strawberry Syrup, and has become more commonly used over real strawberrys.
Where are these made?
They are manufactured in China. Ali Express is the place to order them. I have a shipping location, but this is most likely the location of an Ali Express dispatch warehouse rather than the head office. Yinww, Gate 1, Building 2, Chengda Park, 289 Shisha Road, Baiyun District, Guangzhou, Guangdong 510430, China.
As you might imagine with this new technology, scientists are racing to include the full range of food-grade artificial flavours into pop capsules. These range from fruit and drink flavours, to flower scents, and even coffee and yoghurt. Here is a partial list of some of the ones I managed to find online.
- Black Ice (strong mint)
- Apple Peach
- Apple Mint / Iced Green Apple
- Strawberry Mint / Iced Strawberry
- Orange Soda (not Fanta)
- Chen Pi (Chen Piwei) - Orange Peel
- Dried Tangerine (green)
- Honeydew melon
- Iced honeydew melon
- Apple Peach
- Iced Blueberry
- Banana (Milk Banana)
- Lemon Grapefruit
- Iced bayberry
- Lychee / Litchi
- Iced Lychee
- Iced Lemon
- Cantaloupe Mellon
- Ice cantaloupe
- Fanta/Tango Orange
- Cola /Coke
- Iced Cola / Coke mint
- White Wine / Liquor
- Red Wine
- Green Tea
- NEW -Matcha Tea
- Iced Red Tea
- Mountain Tea Flower
- Iced Camellia
- Iced Lily
- Iced Jasmine
- Iced chrysanthemum
- Iced Osmanthus / East Asia Devilwood
- Iced Rose
- Iced Yakult
- Chewing Gum
- NEW- Vamilla Ice Cream
- NEW - Chocolate
How to use pop capsules.
Using the new technology couldnt be easier. You can insert them into a normal cigarette filter using a cocktail stick, and crush them inside the filter to deliver the taste. I guess you could also insert them from the side, although making the hole in the middle of the filter to drive the capsule into the filter also has the effect of making the cigarette easier to smoke. Ideal for those who are short of breath.
- Select a flavour of crush ball from your container. Plastic tweezers are often provided to help you get them out.
- Cut a toothpick or cocktail stick in half. Use the pointy end to make a hole in the middle of the filter, and push down as far as half way along, so the ball will be in the middle.
- Place the ball in the hole you made, and use the flat end of your cocktail stick to push the bead into the middle.
- Holding the end of the filter to keep it closed, feel for the ball, and apply hard pressure to pop/burst it open. You will hear a 'click'.
On my search of the internet, I found non of the western production studios were willing to sell these crush balls, and I found nothing on Western Ebay. But on Japanese, Hong Kong and Chinese Ebay, you might have a lot more luck!
One of the better examples of Asian sales portals is Ali Express. If you've never used this site before, it offers Asian products in exchange for U.S Dollars, and provides a convenient way to shop for Asian goods in the West. You will have to sign in or sign up to Ali Express to be able to see most of these, but this is free, and they dont send junk mail, only order details. The emails are detailed, and let you know when the goods arrive in your country, and when there are about to deliver.
- Some sellers will not ship to the UK/US, so make sure shipping is available before you go to put things in your basket.
- Some shops only allow 1 purchase per customer!!
- Some sellers do not accept credit cards or paypal
- Some shops have totally messed up the listed colours of their products, e.g. (blue) Champagne capsules are listed as (Red) Strawberry; so you might not get the items you ordered.
- Some negative reviews of these products claim the orders were lost or never arrived.
- Some reviews say they ordered 100, but only 50 arrived.
- Most sellers ship their pop capsules in plastic containers, making them taste plasticy. Its a good idea to place them in a re-sealable bag or glass container, and after a few days this plastic flavour goes away, and they can be used.
- Delivery times can depend on the postal service you chose before you added items to your basket, please allow 30days
Here are a few links I found to sellers on Ali Express. These are working at the time of publication. If not, try searching within these stores:
www.aliexpress.com/item/4000445096072.html - DOUDOU-department Store - 100pc.(see review below)
www.aliexpress.com/item/4000740230397.html - DOUDOU-department Store - 200pc.(see review below)
www.aliexpress.com/item/4000479633385.html - Well-liked Store - 100pc.
www.aliexpress.com/item/4000522451538.html - Well-liked Store - 100pc.
www.aliexpress.com/item/4000570976966.html - Well-liked Store - Flower Flavours - 100pc.
www.aliexpress.com/item/4000534736905.html - Suipin commerce co., LTD - 500pc.
www.aliexpress.com/item/4000525993310.html - Suipin commerce co., LTD - 100pc.
www.aliexpress.com/item/4000648594313.html - Shop5584245 Store - 500pc.
www.aliexpress.com/item/10000040048682.html - Shop5258191 Store - 100pc.
www.aliexpress.com/item/4000209983357.html - Family Sky Store - 80pc.
I ordered x10 (100 pieces/beads in each) Mixed Pop Beads from DOUDOU-department Store on AliExpress, along with x2 Blueberry, X1 Orange, X1 Banana, and X1 Iced Bayberry (100 beads in each). Placed on the 18th Feb 2020, they arrived at my door on 3rd March 2020. They accepted my Visa credit card, but they didnt allow Paypal. The package was a white postal (Jiffy) padded bag, which contained the order in individual plastic cases (see images). The order was correct, and everything I ordered arrived safely. The bag contained a heap of plastic tweezers, but only x2 cocktail sticks / pokey sticks. The packaging was all in Chinese, and was unreadable. No invoice was given in the packaging, only via email.
I tried banana, orange, mint, strawberry and bayberry so far, and can give these one-and-a-half thumbs up, out of two. The taste lasts longer with some flavours than others, but in general they are good for Kingsize and Superkings, as well as roll-your-own. Of these, only the Strawberry tasted a bit Medicinal, and this might be partly because of the plastic flavour of the containers. I transferred them into sealable bags and this smell went away. I notice some complaining that the Cola flavour ones dont taste like Cola, but I havent tried them yet. Perhaps one to avoid? The X10 Mixed cases I ordered contained 100 mixed beads, mostly blue Mint flavour, and less of the exotic ones. So you might find 5 Iced Apple in each case, 5 Banana, 5 Strawberry, etc. It doesnt make things easier when certain flavours share the same colour! So if you find a blue one, it could be Wine or Mint from one seller, Lychee or Cola from another seller, so its best to group them and label them all up, unless you fancy a lucky dip?
These 100 pop/burst bead packs can be picked up for around $3.50 each (£3) from most sellers, with discounts of up to 50% for new orders, and selected coupons. Thats $0.035 per bead, x3 beads are worth $0.1, so x20 beads (one pack of cigs) is $0.70 - much cheaper than using gum or breath mints. Whats more, they taste like candy, as you might expect. Anyone remember 'Love Heart' candy? This is about the same taste as many of these - kind of tangy without being sparkly, smooth but not very zesty. Anyone who's tasted Parma Violets (and such like) will know the area of taste, although these are not as chalky as those.
When I returned to the listing I bought my items from (listed first in the links above) today, I notice they no longer ship to the UK. But in the same store, I found a listing for 200pc, and they did offer UK postage, so I placed a second order today (using the second link listed above) to get x5 200pc Mixed Cases. I also notice the Well-Liked Store was offering Iced Rose (fifth link listed above) so I ordered 100pc Rose from them. This listing only allowed me to order 1 item, 1 per customer, but they will deliver to the UK and offered Visa credit card payment.
Generally very happy. I spent £60 in total to get a whole years-worth of beads, and it will be interesting to try these flavours when they ban menthol cigs from Europe in May.