Tobacco is one of the most cultivated non-food plants in the world. This mainly due to its hardiness, but the amount of money farmers can make selling tobacco plants has also influenced its popularity. Though it is indigenous to North and South America, it is grown in over 120 countries around the world. The soil in the different areas produces tobacco with differing features that result in a wide variety of flavors and smoke characteristics. Though there are a range of tobaccos, here are the most common types used in blends.
This tobacco is primarily used in the production of cigarettes. It is a light to dark brown plant that is left out in barns to cure in the open air. The process takes about two months and produces a tobacco that is low in sugar but high in nicotine. It burns slowly and has a very subtle flavor, which is why it is often used as a base in a many blends. This tobacco is primarily produced in Argentina, Brazil, Malawi, and the United States.
During the curing process, this tobacco turns a golden yellow to deep orange color. Although its name would have a person believe it was produced primarily in Virginia, United States, this tobacco is grown all over the world in places like China, India, Brazil and Tanzania. It is cured for a week in heated barns that produce a tobacco with high sugar content and, thus, is very sweet. The flavor tends to be light, delicate and complex. Though it is used in blends, many people also smoke Virginia as is. One distinguishing characteristics is this tobacco tends to change in flavor as it ages.
Oriental tobacco is named so because it comes primarily from the Mediterranean region. It is cured in the open air under the sun and the finished product tends to fall somewhere between yellow and brown in color. It is a highly aromatic tobacco, and many smokers have said it reminds them of horse bedding or hay. Like Virginia, Oriental is used in blends and can be purchased in bulk to be smoked straight.
These are the three most common tobaccos used in blends. Others include Cavendish, Latakia and Perique. All of these tobaccos have differing flavor and smoke profiles that produce a variety of pipe smoking experiences. Those new to pipe smoking are encouraged to try several types of tobaccos both individually and in blends to find the ones they like smoking the best.