Tobacco Producing Countries And Their Heritage
Everything affects the flavor of tobacco from the variety of the soil to the conditions in which it’s grown. A rich legacy of tobacco cultivation has created the unique flavors and characteristics that we can now experience.
Understanding how conditions affect flavor is vital to understanding the blend you would prefer – because the differences between cigar, pipe and cigarette flavors are immense.
The Americas are the source of the tobacco plant. It was popular amongst Native American tribes who viewed it as a gift from the Creator. Usage was not recreational – instead it was employed in sacred ceremonies and to mark the acceptance of treaties. Europeans exploring the American continents took it home and it later become the main product of colonization. The story of tobacco varieties is reflected in the country in which it was originally produced.
There are many varieties of tobacco and each has unique characteristics. The biggest differences often come in the process of curing. There are four main techniques for curing – namely Air, Fire, Flue and Sun.
Native to the southwestern US, Mexico and parts of South America, this is one of the original tobacco sources and is still used by some native peoples. But it’s incredibly strong so is only really used for tobacco dust or within pesticides.
Sun-cured but highly aromatic, this small leafed variety is often referred to as Turkish tobacco because of its use in the Ottoman Empire. It was originally introduced to the Turks by Spaniards who had brought it back from the New World. The sun curing method was developed because of the different conditions in this region. Many early brands of cigarettes only used this variety but now it most commonly forms part of a blend.
Commonly known as ‘Virginia tobacco’, Brightleaf is one the most common varieties. It doesn’t matter where in the world it is grown as the name refers to the way in which it is processed. After the war of 1812, demand for a milder, lighter and aromatic tobacco rose. Some States developed a milder plant but farmers throughout the country experimented with different curing processes.
The real breakthrough did not come until 1839. It was an accidental discovery. Captain Abisha Slade owned land in North Carolina that was infertile with sandy soil – he experimented with planting the new ‘gold-leaf varieties’. One of his slaves used charcoal to restart a fire used for curing tobacco. The surge of heat turned the leaves yellow. Using this method, Slade would go on to perfect a means for producing bright tobacco using charcoal for heat curing. He went on to teach the discovery to other farmers.
In turn, they perfected the method and by the start of the Civil War there was quite a market for it around Danville Virginia. This happened to be the main railway head for Confederate soldiers heading to the front. They carried Brightleaf tobacco with them and traded it with others including Union soldiers. By the end of the war there was a national market for the crop.
First discovered in 1864 by a Mr. Webb in Ohio, Burley Tobacco yields a type of leaf that is shaded from white to yellow. It also a light air-cured tobacco. It is still heavily produced in the US but some South American and African nations also produce the variety. Primarily this tobacco is used in cigarette production.
There are many more varieties of tobacco and different methods of curing but these are the most common varieties we experience on a daily basis.
The world’s tobacco is produced by a handful of countries. The majority of the crop is cultivated in China with India, Brazil and the USA following closely behind. At peak production there was 20 million rural Chinese households producing tobacco. Whilst still a major crop it is far less profitable due to price controls by the government.
Brazil has two distinct tobacco growing areas. Northern Brazil produces darker air-cured and sun-cured tobaccos commonly used for cigars. While in the south they tend to produce Virginia and Burley which are associated with cigarette production.
These countries produce the majority of tobacco but it is grown in over 124 different countries with some of the more specialist varieties being grown in small batches. The majority of commercially available tobaccos are blends of different varieties and curing processes. Black Note takes its inspiration from these blends to produce a natural alternative to smoking that tastes fantastic.
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