Types of Tobacco



The origin of White Burley tobacco was credited to Mr. Webb in 1864, who grew it near Higgins port, Ohio, from seed from Bracken County, Kentucky. He noticed it yielded a different type of light leaf shaded from white to yellow, and cured differently. By 1866, he harvested 20,000 pounds of Burley tobacco and sold it in 1867 at the St. Louis Fair for $58 per hundred pounds. By 1883, the principal market for this tobacco was Cincinnati, but it was grown throughout central Kentucky and Middle Tennessee.

In 1880 Kentucky produced 36 percent of the total national tobacco production, and was first in the country, with nearly twice as much tobacco produced as by Virginia, then the second-place state.

Burley tobacco accounts for 10% of world production.

In the U.S. it is produced in Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, West Virginia and Missouri.

Burley is light air-cured type derived from the White Burley which arose as a mutant on a farm in Ohio in 1864. Burley is used primarily in cigarette blends. Some of the heavier leaf is sued in pipe blends and also for chewing. Cured burley leaf is characterized by low sugar content and a very low sugar to nitrogen ratio (high nicotine).

This is enhanced by high N. fertilizer, harvesting at an early stage of senescence, and the air curing process which allows oxidation of any sugars which may have occurred.

Burley has a tremendous capacity to absorb flavorings (25% of its own weight vs. 7-8% for flue-cured). Cured leaves vary in color from light tan to reddish and brown. The leaf should be without yellow patches or fringes.

Crops in the field are light green in color. This is particularly true for the midrib and stalk which are creamy-white. The leaves are slightly larger than flue-cured and the plants are generally taller.

A typical plant is topped at 20-30 leaves. Average yields are – 2500-3000 lbs/A and the plants are stalk cut. The leaves are stripped after curing.

Burley is produced in around 55 countries but only a small amounts in over 1/2 of these. The main producers and trades are the U.S., Italy, Korea, Brazil, and Mexico.

Bright Leaf Tobacco "Virginia Tobacco"


Bright leaf tobacco is commonly known as "Virginia tobacco", regardless of where in the world it is harvested.

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, using a robust variety of leaf, and was either fire-cured or air-cured.

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

Growers had noticed that sandy, highland soil produced thinner, weaker plants. Captain Abisha Slade, of Caswell County, North Carolina had considerable infertile, sandy soil, and planted the new "gold-leaf" varieties on it. Slade owned a slave, Stephen, who around 1839 accidentally produced the first true 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, cultivated on poorer soils and using charcoal for heat-curing.

Slade made many public appearances to share the bright-leaf process with other farmers. His success helped him build a brick house in Yanceyville, North Carolina, and at one time he 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.

Virginia tobacco accounts 40% of world tobacco production.

There are several kinds of tobacco; the climate, soil, cultural practices, variety, curing procedures, and intended use are factors in determining the classification. The name "flue-cured" was derived from the original method of curing whereby heat was distributed throughout the curing barn by metal pipes or "flues."

Flue-cured is also known as "Bright" and "Virginia" by the world trade. It is used almost entirely in cigarette blends. Some of the heavier leaves may be used in mixtures for pipe smoking. Some English cigarettes are 100% flue-cured.

Flue-cured leaf is characterized by a high sugar-nitrogen ratio. This ratio is enhanced by the picking of the leaf in an advanced stage of ripeness, and by the unique curing process which allows certain chemical changes to occur in the leaf.

Cured leaves vary from lemon to orange to mahogany in color. The leaves are relatively large, with the largest at mid-stalk.

A well grown plant will be topped at a height of 39 to 51 inches with 18-22 harvestable leaves. Yields average around 2200 lbs/A with some in excess of 3000 lbs/A. The leaves are harvested as they mature from the ground up.

Flue-cured tobacco is grown in approximately 75 countries from New Zealand to Germany. Major producers in the world are: China, USA, Brazil, India and Zimbabwe. The major exporters are the U.S., Brazil, India and Zimbabwe.

Flue-cured is grown in six states in the U.S. – Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. A very small amount is in Alabama.

 Oriental Tobacco


Oriental tobacco is a sun-cured tobacco. It gives a mild smoke with very characteristic aroma, and has a great deal of small leaves. The finished product ranges in color from yellow to brown, and is strongly aromatic.

Resins, waxes and gum exuded by glandular hairs (trichomes) furnish the aroma. Nicotine is low averaging around 1%.

Oriental leaf is characterized by its small size, leaf length of 3-10 inches and 2-3 times the width. Average plant heights are 3-5 ft. The leaves are hand-primed, normally sewn on a string, and are dull yellow to rich brown in color. Oriental, or Turkish, is a spice tobacco known for its nutty, somewhat "sweet and sour" flavor.

Largest importers of Oriental tobacco are the U.S., Japan and Germany.

This tobacco derives its name from the area in which it is grown, the Eastern Mediterranean. Each of the varietals, in fact, are named after the towns or regions they come from.

Europeans taught the Ottomans how to cultivate and cure tobacco, although over time the Turks perfected their own methods of growing, curing, smoking, and using tobacco.

Turkey actually prohibited the export of tobacco seed, and claims Turkish tobacco as a geographic indication because its flavor and color is affected by the soil and air quality around it.

Thus Yenidje, Drama and Smyrna are Greek, Samsun and Izmir are Turkish, and Xanthe is from the region of Thrace, which is mostly in Greece.

For all intents and purposes, this is all one region, united for many years under the Turkish rule (hence, the interchangeable terms "Oriental" and "Turkish.")
The best quality Turkish tobacco leaves undergo lengthy treatment and are mildly fermented.

Oriental tobacco grows principally in Turkey, Bulgaria, Greece, Republic of Macedonia, Romania and Italy, and accounts for 16% of the world tobacco production.

Reconstituted Tobacco (Recon)


The Reconstituted tobacco process was developed more than 50 years ago for economic reasons as a way to salvage these by products or in part by transforming them into a tobacco sheet that is more adaptable to blending, processing and cigarette making.

Reconstituted Tobacco Leaf (RTL) is now widely used throughout the tobacco industry for blend construction. Reconstituted tobacco sheets manufactured from tobacco dust and binder are described below.

More particularly, the tobacco dust has a mean particle size in the range of about 60 mesh to 400 mesh to afford reconstituted tobacco sheets having about 80% to about 90% tobacco content with improved quality and durability.

The reduced particle size of the tobacco dust allows increased solids content of the slurry without an increase in slurry viscosity. The increased solids content reduces the drying load of the cast sheet thereby allowing increased production rate.

The reconstituted tobacco sheets may be prepared from a slurry comprising tobacco dust and binder that may be subjected to a means for removing the air trapped within the slurry before casting the slurry into sheets.

An apparatus for determining the amount of air trapped within the slurry prepared according to the process of the present invention is also described below.

By reclaiming remnants of virgin tobacco remaining after manufacture-elements that would otherwise be wasted, we combine them into a malleable sheet. This can then be used directly in the tobacco blend in combination with other tobacco leaves to form a very consistent and high quality cigarette blend.

Dry Ice Expanded Tobacco (DIET)


Airco DIET was one of the original inventors of the DIET process and that the first Airco DIET plants were sold in 1979. Now 30 years later, close to 50 Airco DIET plants have been installed around the globe!

Dry Ice Expanded Tobacco improves smoking quality and is the most effective tool for tar and nicotine reduction in cigarettes using tobacco lamina.

DIET also reduces the bulk density of the cigarette blend which significantly reduces the cost of manufacturing.

The DIET Process uses the unique thermal and physical properties of carbon dioxide to expand tobacco.

Cut tobacco is submerged in liquid carbon dioxide under highly-pressurized conditions in a pressure vessel known as an impregnator. After a brief soaking period, the liquid carbon dioxide is drained to the process tank and used again. The carbon dioxide gas remaining in the impregnation vessel is recovered by compression and condensation and returned to the process tank to be re-used.

When the pressure in the impregnator is reduced to atmospheric, the residual liquid carbon dioxide in the tobacco cells turns to dry ice. The frozen tobacco is fed to a de-clumper to produce a flowing constituent metered into the re-circulating hot gasses of the sublimator tower. When heated, the frozen carbon dioxide in the tobacco cells sublimes and increases in volume to over 100,000 times.

The resulting internal pressures inflate the tobacco cells to provide a volume increase. The expanded tobacco is removed from the sublimator by a tangential separator and reordered to restore the moisture to target.

A net volume increase of about 100% to 140% at target moisture occurs with the DIET process.

Expanded Stem


Expanded Stem is often used in American blend cigarettes because of its economic and technical benefits.
Expanded Stem reduces the cigarette weight, while preserving the natural tobacco taste. It increases the filling value and burn rate, which reduce the number of puffs, and which in turn reduce the tar and nicotine deliveries per cigarette.

The Expanded Stem is usually included in the blend at 5 to 10 percent at full-flavor cigarettes, and 10 to 15 percent or more in light or ultra-light cigarettes.

Expanded Stem (ES) is considered as one of the main tools for reducing the harm from tobacco products. Expanded Stem are rolled, flattened, and shredded tobacco leaf stems that are expanded by being soaked in water and rapidly heated and then dried.

The Expanded stem can also be used as a means for reducing the standard ISO tar and nicotine yields. The rate of Expanded Stems with an absolutely neutral taste in cigarettes may increase up to 30% without creating a negative after-taste or change in blend characteristics. It can also be used as a means for reducing the standard ISO tar and nicotine yields. Expanded Stem, in particular, imparts firmness to tobacco rods.

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, western 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.



Cavendish is more a process of curing and a method of cutting tobacco than a type of it. The processing and the cutting 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.



Corojo is a type of tobacco primarily in the making of cigars, originally grown in the Vuelta Abajo region of Cuba.



Criollo is primarily used in the making of cigars. It was, by most accounts, one of the original Cuban tobaccos having emerged around the time of Columbus.



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 the first turning of this local tobacco into the Perique in 1824 using the technique of pressure-fermentation.

Shade Tobacco


It is not well known that the northern US states of Connecticut and Massachusetts are also two of the most important tobacco-growing regions in the country. Long before Europeans arrived in the area, Native Americans cultivated tobacco along the banks of the Connecticut River.



Thuoclao is a nicotine-rich (although not as strong as mapacho) type of tobacco grown exclusively in Vietnam and is often smoked by Vietnamese rice farmers.

Type 22


Type 22 tobacco is a classification of United States tobacco product as defined by the U. S. Department of Agriculture, effective date November 7, 1986.

White Burley


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

Wild Tobacco


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



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.