SORTS OF TOBACCO
Tobacco has been part of the American culture since its beginning. There are about 60 species of tobacco and more than 1000 sorts of “tobacco” genus plants. However, only two Nicotiana species are being cultivated – Nicotiana tabacum (used in cigarette, cigar and pipe tobacco manufacturing) and Nicotiana rustica (intended for hookah use and cigarette tobacco of poor quality, such as shag.) There are a few major tobacco sorts which used in the production of various tobacco blends. The most widespread is “Virginia”, that accounts for about 2/3 of the world tobacco production. It is light, flue-cured tobacco, used almost entirely in cigarette and pipe blends. Burley is also referred to the light types of tobacco, but unlike Virginia it is air-cured. Burley and Virginia were first cultivated in the USA, and now are being spread worldwide. Burley is valued by the pipe smoking lovers and in the pipe tobacco blends because it perfectly absorbs different flavours and never tastes bitter.
Pipe tobacco can be divided into two main categories. The first one includes English and Scottish Cavendish which ripens while pressing the tobacco leaves into a cake about an inch thick and exudes naturally formed sugar. The second category contains American tobacco types with various flavoured additives.
This flue-cured tobacco can be found in USA, Malawi, Tanzania, Italy, Poland and Indonesia. It has dark-brown, close to black colour and strong rich taste. Kentucky tobacco differs from Burley by the higher nicotine content, which makes it quite strong. Additing Kentucky tobacco to the blends provides extra strength and particular flavour.
Burley is relatively young tobacco with smooth, a little bit chocolate taste, and therefore it is often used in flavouring blends. Burley is grown in Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio. It can be distinguished as low sugar and high nicotine concentration tobacco, which smoulders slowly.
Dutch Cavendish is a blend of different tobacco leaves, such as Burley, Virginia and Maryland. Cavendish is more a process of curing and a method of cutting tobacco than a type of it. The processing and the cut are used to bring out the natural sweet taste in the tobacco. The process begins by pressing the tobacco leaves into a cake about an inch thick. Heat from fire or steam is applied, and the tobacco is allowed to ferment. This is said to result in a sweet and mild tobacco. Finally the cake is sliced. These slices must be broken apart, as by rubbing in a circular motion between one's palms, before the tobacco can be evenly packed into a pipe. Flavouring is often added before the leaves are pressed. English Cavendish uses a dark flue or fire-cured Virginia, which is steamed and then stored under pressure to permit it to cure and ferment for several days or weeks.
Black Cavendish is similar to Burley tobacco from Tennessee and Kentucky, but strongly cured. It can be also some sorts of dark, air-cured tobaccos from Central Virginia. Such tobaccos often contain different flavourings and herbs.
Virginia occupies the first place among all tobaccos, which are produced in the world, taking 70% of the whole production. The name “Virginia” was originated from the name of former British column “Virginia”, which was founded by Sir Walter Raleigh and was called in honor of the Queen of England – Elizabeth I. Nowadays, this sort of tobacco is cultivated not only in Virginia state, but also in other parts of USA, Asia, Africa, Northern America and Europe. Virginia tobacco can be distinguished by the high percentage of sugar concent and very often is used as a basis of different blends, although it can be perfectly smoked in its pure form. Virginia tobacco has particular sweetish flavour, which leaves pleasant taste in your mouth.
Latakia tobacco is originally produced in Syria and named after the port city of Latakia. Now Latakia is cultivated mainly in Turkey and Northern Cyprus. This sort is cured over a stone pine or oak wood fire, which gives it an intense smokey-peppery taste and makes it quite expensive. The taste is not so strong as it seems to be due to the strength of aroma, which often makes smokers take aroma for tobacco strength.
Perique is produced in St. James Parrish in South Louisiana. Curing consists of a period of moisture loss in the open, followed by 8-10 months of high pressure treatment in barrels with prune juice, spices and fruit squash. The final product has deep black colour with a characteristic odor almost like perfume, which is added to a few specialized pipe mixtures. Before Perique was used as a raw material for snuff tobacco, but now very small quantities of Perique serve the purpose of tincturing the unique particular flavour to the blends. Perique is a rare and expensive tobacco sort.
Despite of their name, these tobaccos are mainly cultivated in Greece. Having a very pleasant flavour, they are rarely used in pipe tobaccos due to different reasons, and are only used in the exotic blends.
Oriental tobacco is grown in Syria, Greece, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Albania, Romania, in the South of Russia, partially in Italy, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq and Israel and is 16% of the total tobacco production. Oriental tobacco gives a mild smoke with very characteristic aroma. Resins, waxes and gum exuded by glandular hairs (trichomes) furnish the aroma. Nicotine is low, averaging around 1.0%. Oriental leaf is characterized by its small size; leaf length is 3-10 inches and is 2-3 times the width. Average plant height is 3-5 ft. The leaves are hand primed, normally sewn on a string, and are dull yellow to rich brown. The leaves are sun-cured.