Best Pipe Tobacco for Beginners
If you are new to smoking a tobacco pipe, the first thing you probably did was pick a pipe. Once that’s done, it’s on to
tobacco. Choosing the best pipe tobacco for beginners can be a challenge. After all, there are hundreds of different brands, varieties and types on the market. Choosing can be daunting. Follow the steps below to make it easier:
Choosing pipe tobacco for beginners
Ask yourself these questions
- Do I like cigars? If you are used to smoking cigars, you will probably enjoy non-flavored tobaccos from day one, including mild burleys. If not, you may want to consider starting with aromatics, which are sweeter and have less body. However, use caution when choosing a flavored pipe tobacco. Most that you can pick up at a local drugstore are mediocre and won’t give you a memorable experience. Instead, try a high-quality blend like the popular Apricots and Cream from Cornell & Diehl (pictured at left).
- Am I switching from cigarettes? We find many former cigarette smokers prefer to start with a Cavendish pipe tobacco. These generally affordable blends are light-bodied and softer tobaccos that more accurately mimic the tongue-feel of smoking a cigarette (just don’t inhale).
- How often am I planning to smoke a bowl? Unless you’re planning to smoke multiple times each day, it’s probably a good idea to start out with small quantities of tobacco. Choose 2 oz pipe tobacco tins or sample packs to start. Once you have a few favorites and/or are smoking more regularly, feel free to go back and buy those types in larger quantities.
Don’t choose tobacco on smell alone.
The aromas you smell when you pop open a tin do not necessarily translate to its smoking properties. In fact, you’re not likely to be able to smell the scent of the tobacco, from the smoking side, at all. Choosing tobacco based on smell will become more accurate with experience, but we don’t recommend it in the beginning. It is one of the most common mistakes a new smoker makes.
Consider the body.
Body and flavor are not one in the same. Just like tannins affect the way red wine sits on your palate (by adding dryness), the body of the tobacco refers not to the taste, but to the way the tobacco smoke sits on the tongue. In general, new smokers should stay away from blends labeled “strong bodied” or even “full-bodied” for the same reasons that new wine drinkers usually don’t care for a Tempranillo--the tongue requires a little breaking in before moving on to the stronger blends.
Store pipe tobacco correctly.
Many new smokers make the mistake of putting too much tobacco in their tobacco pouch or leaving very moist tobacco packed together in an airtight tin. It is important to use your fingers to break the tobacco up a bit. An easy way to store most tobacco is to transfer it to a mason jar and keep the lid screwed on tight. This allows a little more “breathing room” while keeping the pipe tobacco from becoming dry and stale. The pouch should only be used to store the day’s tobacco. It is not meant for long-term storage.
Begin enjoying pipe tobacco
By asking yourself a few simple questions and taking the time to consider your tobacco choice carefully, choosing the best tobacco for beginners becomes much simpler. Enjoy your new hobby!
- Introducing Silver Gray Pipes: An artist and her process [Interview]
- Pipe Collector Daniel Billings: His favorite awesome smokes
- Making Peterson Pipes in 10 Steps (+ awesome history from Mark Irwin)
- Tobacco Pipe Collector Eric Chilton's shares his fascinating story
- Artisan Pipe Maker Steve Morrisette talks ugly truths + gorgeous briar