Types of tobacco

Types of tobacco

There are many types of tobacco.


Aromatic Fire-cured

Aromatic Fire-cured smoking tobacco is a robust variety of tobacco used as a condimental for pipe blends. It is cured by smoking over gentle fires. In the United States, it is grown in northern middle Tennessee, central Kentucky and in Virginia. Fire-cured tobacco grown in Kentucky and Tennessee is used in some chewing tobaccos, moist snuff, some cigarettes and as a condiment leaf in pipe tobacco blends. It has a rich, slightly floral taste, and adds body and aroma to the blend.

Another fire-cured tobacco is Latakia and is produced from oriental varieties of "N. tabacum". The leaves are cured and smoked over smoldering fires of local hardwoods and aromatic shrubs in Cyprus and Syria. Latakia has a pronounced flavor and a very distinctive smoky aroma, and is used in Balkan and English-style pipe tobacco blends.

Brightleaf tobacco

Brightleaf tobacco is commonly known as "Virginia tobacco", often regardless of which state they are planted. Prior to the American Civil War, most tobacco grown in the US was fire-cured dark-leaf. This type of tobacco was planted in fertile lowlands, used a robust variety of leaf, and was either fire cured or air cured.

Sometime after the War of 1812, demand for a milder, lighter, more aromatic tobacco arose. Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland all innovated quite a bit with milder varieties of the tobacco plant. Farmers around the country experimented with different curing processes. But the breakthrough didn't come until around 1839.

It had been noticed for centuries that sandy, highland soil produced thinner, weaker plants. Captain Abisha Slade, of Caswell County, North Carolina had a good deal of infertile, sandy soil, and planted the new "gold-leaf" varieties on it. Slade owned a slave, Stephen, who around 1839 accidentally produced the first real bright tobacco. He used charcoal to restart a fire used to cure the crop. The surge of heat turned the leaves yellow. Using that discovery, Slade developed a system for producing bright tobacco, cultivating on poorer soils and using charcoal for heat-curing.

Slade made many public appearances to share the bright-leaf process with other farmers. Prosperous and outgoing, he built a brick house in Yanceyville, North Carolina, and at one time had many servants.

News spread through the area pretty quickly. The infertile sandy soil of the Appalachian piedmont was suddenly profitable, and people rapidly developed flue-curing techniques, a more efficient way of smoke-free curing. Farmers discovered that Bright leaf tobacco needs thin, starved soil, and those who could not grow other crops found that they could grow tobacco. Formerly unproductive farms reached 20–35 times their previous worth. By 1855, six Piedmont counties adjoining Virginia ruled the tobacco market.

By the outbreak of the Civil War, the town of Danville, Virginia actually had developed a bright-leaf market for the surrounding area in Caswell County, North Carolina and Pittsylvania County, Virginia.

Danville was also the main railway head for Confederate soldiers going to the front. These brought bright tobacco with them from Danville to the lines, traded it with each other and Union soldiers, and developed quite a taste for it. At the end of the war, the soldiers went home and suddenly there was a national market for the local crop. Caswell and Pittsylvania counties were the only two counties in the South that experienced an "increase" in total wealth after the war.

Most Canadian cigarettes are made from 100% pure Virginia tobacco. [http://www.imperialtobaccocanada.com/onewebca/sites/IMP_5TUJVZ.nsf/vwPagesWebLive/A372FF0B8584533BC1256EEC00564B2A?opendocument&SID=&DTC=&TMP=2 Imperial Tobacco Canada - Our products] ]


Burley tobacco is a light air-cured tobacco used primarily for cigarette production.  In the United States  it is produced in an eight state belt with approximately 70% produced in KentuckyTennessee produces approximately 20% with smaller amounts produced in Indiana, North Carolina, Missouri, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia.  Burley tobacco is produced in many other countries with major production in Brazil, Malawi and Argentina. In the U.S., burley tobacco plants are started from palletized seeds placed in polystyrene trays floated on a bed of fertilized water in March or April.


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. Cavendish can be produced out of any tobacco type but is usually one of, or a blend of Kentucky, Virginia, and Burley and is most commonly used for pipe tobacco and cigars.

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.  Flavoring [A typical mix of ingredients would be around 54 percent tobacco, 22 percent water, 8 percent alcohol (Glycerol/Sorbitol) and the rest sugars and specific flavoring (e.g., cherry).] 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.


Criollo is primarily used in the making of cigars. It was, by most accounts, one of the original Cuban tobaccos that emerged around the time of Columbus. The term means "native seed", and thus a tobacco variety using the term, such as "Dominican Criollo", may or may not have anything to do with the original Cuban seed nor the recent hybrid, Criollo '98.


Dokha is a tobacco of Iranian origin mixed with leaves, bark, and herbs for smoking in a midwakh.

Oriental Tobacco

Oriental tobacco is a sun-cured, highly aromatic, small-leafed variety ("Nicotiana tabacum") that is grown in Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, and the Republic of Macedonia. Oriental tobacco is frequently referred to as "Turkish tobacco", as these regions were all historically part of the Ottoman Empire. Many of the early brands of cigarettes were made mostly or entirely of Oriental tobacco; today, its main use is in blends of pipe and especially cigarette tobacco (a typical American cigarette is a blend of bright Virginia, burley and Oriental).


Perhaps the most strongly flavored of all tobaccos is the Perique, from Saint James Parish, Louisiana. When the Acadians made their way into this region in 1755, the Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes were cultivating a variety of tobacco with a distinctive flavor. A farmer called Pierre Chenet is credited with first turning this local tobacco into the Perique in 1824 through the technique of pressure-fermentation.

Considered the truffle of pipe tobaccos, the Perique is used as a component of many blended pipe tobaccos, but is too strong to be smoked pure. At one time, the freshly moist Perique was also chewed, but none is now sold for this purpose. It is traditionally a pipe tobacco, and is still very popular with pipe-smokers, typically blended with pure Virginia to lend spice, strength, and coolness to the blend.

Shade tobacco

Shade tobacco. It is not well known that the northern US states of Connecticut and Massachusetts are also one of the important tobacco-growing regions of the country. Long before Europeans arrived in the area, Native Americans harvested wild tobacco plants that grew along the banks of the Connecticut River. Today, the Connecticut River valley north of Hartford, Connecticut is known as "Tobacco Valley", and the fields and drying sheds are visible to travelers on the road to and from Bradley International Airport, the major Connecticut airport. The tobacco grown here is known as shade tobacco because it is grown under tents which protect the tobacco plants from direct exposure to the sunlight. This imitates the conditions of tobacco plants growing in the shade of trees in tropical areas. The result are leafs of lighter color and of a more delicate structure. They are used as outer wrappers for some of the world's finest cigars. It is not entirely clear who introduced this method of growing tobacco, but it is likely that the New York firm of Schroeder & Bon or its founder Frederick A. Schroeder were instrumental in developing this agricultural innovation [See Robert T. Pando (2003). Shrouded in Cheesecloth: the Demise of Shade Tobacco in Florida and Georgia. Master of Arts thesis. Florida State University. PP. 22 sq., available online at http://etd.lib.fsu.edu/theses/available/etd-11142003-204324/ and Carl Wilhelm Schlegel (1916—1918). Schlegel's American Families of German Ancestry. Vol. 3. P. 370.] .

Early Connecticut colonists acquired from the Native Americans the habit of smoking tobacco in pipes and began cultivating the plant commercially, even though the Puritans referred to it as the "evil weed". The plant was outlawed in Connecticut in 1650, but in the 1800s as cigar smoking began to be popular, tobacco farming became a major industry, employing farmers, laborers, local youths, southern African Americans, and migrant workers.

Working conditions varied from backbreaking work for young local children, ages 13 and up, to backbreaking exploitation of migrants. Each tobacco plant yields only 18 leaves useful as cigar wrappers, and each leaf requires a great deal of individual manual attention during harvesting. Although the temperature in the curing sheds sometimes exceeds 38 C (100 F), no work is done inside the sheds while the tobacco is being fired.

In 1921, Connecticut tobacco production peaked, at 31,000 acres (125 km²) under cultivation. The rise of cigarette smoking and the decline of cigar smoking have caused a corresponding decline in the demand for shade tobacco, reaching a minimum in 1992 of 2,000 acres (8 km²) under cultivation. Since then, however, cigar smoking has become more popular again, and in 1997 tobacco farming had risen to 4,000 acres (16 km²). However, only 1,050 acres (4.2 km²) of shade tobacco were harvested in the Connecticut Valley in 2006. Connecticut seed is being grown in Ecuador, where labor is very cheap. The industry has weathered some major catastrophes, including a devastating hailstorm in 1929, and an epidemic of brown spot fungus in 2000, but is now in danger of disappearing altogether, given the value of the land to real estate speculators. The older and much less labor intensive Broadleaf plant, which produces an excellent maduro wrapper as well as binder and filler for cigars, is increasing in area in the Connecticut Valley.

White Burley

"White Burley" similar to Burley tobacco is the main component in chewing tobacco, American blend pipe tobacco, and American-style cigarettes.

In 1865, George Webb of Brown County, Ohio planted Red Burley seeds he had purchased, and found that a few of the seedlings had a whitish, sickly look. He transplanted them to the fields anyway, where they grew into mature plants but retained their light color. The cured leaves had an exceedingly fine texture and were exhibited as a curiosity at the market in Cincinnati. The following year he planted ten acres (40,000 m²) from seeds from those plants, which brought a premium at auction. The air-cured leaf was found to be mild tasting and more absorbent than any other variety. "White Burley", as it was later called, became the main component in chewing tobacco, American blend pipe tobacco, and American-style cigarettes. The white part of the name is seldom used today, since red burley, a dark air-cured variety of the mid-1800s, no longer exists.

Wild Tobacco

Wild tobacco is native to the southwestern United States, Mexico, and parts of South America.  Its botanical name is "Nicotiana rustica".


Y1 is a strain of tobacco that was cross-bred by Brown & Williamson to obtain an unusually high nicotine content. It became controversial in the 1990s when the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) used it as evidence that tobacco companies were intentionally manipulating the nicotine content of cigarettes.cite web|url=http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/settlement/interviews/kessler.html|title=Inside the Tobacco Deal - interview with David Kessler|publisher=PBS|date=2008|accessdate=2008-06-11]

Y1 was developed by tobacco plant researcher James Chaplin,cite news|title=Tobacco giant bred high-nicotine crop in attempt to keep smokers hooked|last=Pringle|first=Peter|publisher="The Observer"|date=1998-02-22] working under Dr. Jeffrey Wigand [cite web|url=http://www.post-gazette.com/columnists/20030504edroddy04p1.asp|title=Smoke Gets In Your Ire|publisher="Pittsburgh Post-Gazette"|date=2003-05-04|accessdate=2008-06-11] for Brown & Williamson (then a subsidiary of British American Tobacco) in the late 1970s.cite web|url=http://www.library.ucsf.edu/tobacco/batco/html/12700/12752/|title=The Future of Y1|publisher=University of California, San Francisco|date=1990|accessdate=2008-06-11] Chaplin, a director of the USDA Research Laboratory at Oxford, North Carolina,cite web|url=http://tobaccodocuments.org/bliley_bw/566628820-8821.html|title=Chronology of Significant Y1 Events|publisher=Brown & Williamson|date=1995-06-26|accessdate=2008-06-12] had described the need for a higher nicotine tobacco plant in the trade publication "World Tobacco" in 1977, and had bred a number of high-nicotine strains based on a hybrid of "Nicotiana tabacum" and "Nicotiana rustica", but they were weak and would blow over in a strong wind. Only two grew to maturity; Y2, which "turned black in the drying barn and smelled like old socks," and Y1, which was a success.

B&W brought the plants to California company DNA Plant Technology for additional modification, including making the plants male-sterile, a procedure that prevents competitors from reproducing the strain from seeds. DNA Plant Technology then smuggled the seeds to a B&W subsidiary in Brazil.cite news|last=Seper|first=Jerry|title=Justice uproots 'crazy tobacco'; Prosecutors target high-nicotine leaf|publisher="The Washington Times"|date=1998-01-08|page=A4]

Y1 has a higher nicotine content than conventional flue-cured tobacco (6.5% versus 3.2—3.5%),cite web|url=http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/8/4/433|title=The Low Tar Lie|publisher=British Medical Journal|accessdate=2008-06-11|date=1999] but a comparable amount of tar, and does not affect taste or aroma. [cite web|url=http://www.library.ucsf.edu/tobacco/batco/html/10700/10744/|title=Evaluation of Y1 Tobacco|publisher=British American Tobacco|date=1991-11-21|accessdate=2008-06-11]   British American Tobacco (BAT) began to discuss the trialling of Y1 tobacco in 1991, [cite web|url=http://www.library.ucsf.edu/tobacco/batco/html/11600/11658/otherpages/allpages.html|title=Note for Tobacco Strategy Review Team|publisher=British American Tobacco|date=November 1991|accessdate=2008-06-11] despite it not being approved for use in the United States.B&W promised in 1994 to stop using Y1, but at that time they had 7 million pounds of inventory, and continued to blend Y1 into their products until 1999.cite news|last=Mishra|first=Raja|title=Despite pledge, cigarette still include high-nicotine tobacco/Brown & Williamson's CEO said four years ago the practice would stop. Newly released papers also indicate he misled Congress.|publisher="The Philadelphia Inquirer"|date=1998-03-07|page=A3]

See also

* Tobacco




External links

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