Association Européenne pour la Recherche et l’Expérimentation Tabacole

European Association for Tobacco Research and Experimentation

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Tobacco types

Tobacco is produced for its leaves. In order to ensure a better growth of the leaves, the flower is usually cut. This operation, called topping, causes the rise of apical dominance and implies to control the development of axillary suckers.

Depending on the variety, tobacco is harvested either in leaves or in stalks. The latter implies to strip the leaves from the stem.

After harvesting, tobacco is cured. During curing, tobacco leaves undergo a succession of bio-chemical transformations and a dehydration. The step of curing is prominent in obtaining a final product, complying with criteria both on its colouring and its biochemical composition.

Depending on the way of curing, in parallel with the biological classification of the species, tobacco is conventionally classified in five types:

Field of Virginia tobacco, ANITTA, 2004

- flue-cured tobaccos:
these tobaccos are cured in specific bulks, where the heated air is forced through the leaves thanks to a ventilation system. Just after the degradation of chlorophyll, other biochemical transformations are quickly stopped by the augmentation of temperature in the bulk. Thanks to this fast curing period (around one week), tobacco leaves lose their green colouring for a bright yellow one but, the content in sugar stays high. Virginia is the major variety in the category of flue-cured tobaccos. Due to its sweet flavour, Virginia is the basis of "English blends" and also enters in the composition of "American blends".


Field of dark air-cured tobacco, ANITTA, 2008

- dark air-cured tobaccos:
as their name indicates, these tobaccos are dried naturally in structures where the air can freely circulate. The drying period lasts from 1 month and a half to 2 months. During this period, both the chlorophyll and the sugars are degraded. The final colouring is dark brown. The dark tobaccos are essentially used in cigars and in the "French blends".


Field of light air-cured tobacco, ANITTA, 2007

- light air-cured tobaccos:
these tobaccos are cured in the same type of structures as dark air-cured. The difference resides on their final colouring, due to the variety cultivated. Burley is the main variety included in this category. Owing to its typical flavour, Burley is the basis of "American blends".


Fire-cured tobacco in a barn, ANITTA, 2000

- fire-cured tobaccos:
these tobaccos are cured in barns, where low fires of aromatic woods are burning. The exposure to the smoke gives them a specific flavour,  very interesting for pipe blends, snuff or chewing tobaccos.


Sun-cured tobacco, ANITTA, 2000

- sun-cured tobaccos:
the leaves are firstly cured in the sun before being air-cured. The most famous of sun-cured tobaccos are the oriental ones, cultivated mainly in Greece and Turkey. Their flavour being very rich, these tobaccos enter, in small proportion, in the composition of both "American blends" and "French blends". The "Oriental blends" is wholly composed of them.


Association Européenne pour la Recherche et l'expérimentation Tabacole

European Association for Tobacco Research and Experimentation

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