Home » Society and Culture

It's A Small World: Tobaccos From Around The Globe

Feb 27, 2008
Most nonsmokers think of tobacco plants as interchangeable - if you've smoked one, you've smoked 'em all. But as anyone knows who has ever compared the taste of a premium cigar to a cheap one - or who has visited the Middle East, where an undreamt-of range of sweetly intense tobacco smells assault the tourist's nostril - nothing could be further from the truth. Tobacco plants vary as widely - and as consequentially - as any other plant. Here is a rough guide to a few of these differences - and the difference they make to smokers.

Going alphabetically, we begin with Aromatic Fire-Cured tobacco, grown in the western portions of Tennessee and Kentucky as well as in Virginia. Rich and slightly flowery, you'll find it used in snuff, cigarettes and as the less dominant partner in blends made for pipe smokers. On the other side of the world, there's a variant, another kind of fire-cured tobacco: strong-flavored Latakia, grown in Cyprus and Syria for use in Balkan and English pipe tobacco blends.

Then there's Brightleaf tobacco, which originated in North Carolina and, hence, is nicknamed "Virginia tobacco." (Well, whatever.) Developed in 1839, in response to smokers' demands for a milder tobacco than the dark fire-cured leaves commonly grown in the antebellum South, this tobacco owes its existence to a combination of industry and happenstance.

Farmers in nearby Maryland and Pennsylvania, as well as farther-away Ohio, had been trying since the early part of the century to develop a lighter leaf, trying different ways of curing the plants. Abisha Slade of North Carolina, noticing that sandy soil tended to yield weaker plants, tried the expedient of planting a gold-leaf plant in a field of seemingly-infertile sandy soil belonging to him. A clever idea, but all might still have been lost had Slade's slave, Stephen, not used charcoal to restart a curing fire that had gone out. The sudden heat turned the leaves yellow. Slade, noticing this, seized on it and made of it a method: grow plants in poor soils and then heat-cure them with charcoal (rather than fire-curing them with, well, fire).

In any case, Slade's discovery - or Stephen's discovery - had immediate economic implications. Not only did American smokers now have the less acrid tobacco they'd been looking for, but Virginia farmers had something for which they'd hardly dared hope - an economic use for the previously infertile Appalachian piedmont.

Farmers stuck with otherwise-useless lands suddenly had a cash crop - and the Piedmont counties came to dominate US tobacco production. The Civil War only increased the popularity of Brightleaf tobacco, as Confederate soldiers passing through the railway hub of Danville, VA, acquired a taste for the popular local variety, and brought that taste with the to the front.

Trading it among each other - and, during breaks in battle, with Union soldiers - these young men served as Brightleaf's unappointed press agents. The Civil War created a national market for the crop and ensured that Virginia's Caswell and Pittsylvania Counties were the only counties in the South to find themselves richer after the war than before it.

White Burley tobacco, meanwhile, furnishes a true example of evolution in action. At the tail-end of the Civil War, an Ohio farmer, George Webb, finds that a few of his seedlings look sick and whitish; in the field, they grow to normal size but remain light-colored. He put them on sale at a Cincinnati market - not as a smokable tobacco but as a novelty plant. But by the following year he'd already decided that the air-cured, mild-tasting leaf was worth a risk, and planted ten acres of seedlings from that first generation of mild white plant. With time, the new variety - White Burley, produced seemingly by chance genetic mutation and encouraged in its development by cultivation - became the primary ingredient in chewing tobacco as well as in American pipe and cigarette tobacco. Meanwhile, Red Burley, popular in the mid-nineteenth century, sank into obscurity and eventual extinction; nowadays White Burley is generally just Burley.
About the Author
CigarFox provides the finest cigars that include cigar brands like Cohiba, Montecristo, Gurkha, Macanudo, Rocky Patel, Romeo, Drew Estate, and many more. Other cigar products include cigar humidors, cigar boxes, and cigar accessories like Zippo Lighters.
Rating:
Please Rate:
(Average: Not rated)
Views: 176
Print Email Report Share
Article Categories
    • Artists
    • Gambling
    • Humanities
    • Humor
    • Movies
    • Music
    • Photography
    • Tattoos
    • Television
    • Classic Cars
    • Motorcycles
    • Recreational Vehicles
    • SUVs
    • Trucks
    • Vans
    • Branding
    • Business Opportunities
    • Careers and Jobs
    • Corporate
    • Customer Service
    • Direct Mail
    • Entrepreneurship
    • Ethics
    • Financing
    • Franchising
    • Home-Based Business
    • Human Resources
    • Import and Export
    • Leadership
    • Management
    • Market Research
    • Marketing and Advertising
    • Negotiation
    • Network Marketing
    • Networking
    • Organizational
    • Presentation
    • Project Management
    • Public Relations
    • Small Business
    • Strategic Planning
    • Team Building
    • Telemarketing
    • Training
    • Data Recovery
    • Databases
    • Games
    • Hardware
    • Networks
    • Operating Systems
    • Programming
    • Security
    • Software
    • Spyware and Viruses
    • Ask an Expert
    • College and University
    • Home Schooling
    • K-12
    • Languages
    • Online Education
    • Psychology
    • Accounting
    • Credit
    • Currency Trading
    • Debt Consolidation
    • Insurance
    • Investing
    • Leasing
    • Loans
    • Mortgage
    • Mutual Funds
    • Personal Finance
    • Stock Market
    • Structured Settlements
    • Taxes
    • Wealth Building
    • Coffee
    • Cooking
    • Gourmet
    • Recipes
    • Wine and Spirits
    • Acne
    • Aerobics
    • Alternative Medicine
    • Beauty
    • Cancer
    • Cosmetics
    • Depression
    • Diabetes
    • Diseases and Conditions
    • Fitness Equipment
    • Fitness
    • Hair Loss
    • Heart Disease
    • Medicine
    • Men's Health
    • Muscle Building
    • Nutrition
    • Skin Care
    • Supplements and Vitamins
    • Weight Loss
    • Women's Health
    • Yoga
    • Arts and Crafts
    • Babies
    • Collecting
    • Elderly Care
    • Genealogy
    • Hobbies
    • Parenting
    • Pets
    • Pregnancy
    • Woodworking
    • Feng Shui
    • Gardening
    • Home Appliances
    • Home Security
    • Interior Design
    • Landscaping
    • Affiliate Programs
    • Article Marketing
    • Auctions
    • Audio
    • Banner Advertising
    • Blogging
    • Broadband
    • Domain Names
    • E-Books
    • E-Commerce
    • Email Marketing
    • Ezines and Newsletters
    • Forums
    • Internet Marketing
    • Link Popularity
    • Pay-Per-Click
    • Podcasting
    • RSS
    • Search Engine Marketing
    • Search Engine Optimization
    • Security
    • Social Media
    • Spam
    • Video
    • Viral Marketing
    • Web Design
    • Web Development
    • Web Hosting
    • Copyright
    • Cyber Law
    • Intellectual Property
    • National, State, Local
    • Patents
    • Regulatory Compliance
    • Trademarks
    • Buying
    • Selling
    • Baseball
    • Basketball
    • Boating
    • Cycling
    • Extreme Sports
    • Fishing
    • Football
    • Golf
    • Hockey
    • Hunting
    • Martial Arts
    • Running
    • Scuba Diving
    • Soccer
    • Swimming
    • Tennis
    • Dating
    • Divorce
    • Marriage
    • Weddings
    • Astrology
    • Buddhism
    • Christianity
    • Faith
    • Hinduism
    • Islam
    • Judaism
    • Meditation
    • Metaphysical
    • New Age
    • Cable and Satellite TV
    • Cell Phones
    • Communication
    • Gadgets and Gizmos
    • GPS
    • Satellite Radio
    • Video Conferencing
    • VoIP
    • Addictions
    • Coaching
    • Goal Setting
    • Motivational
    • Stress Management
    • Time Management
    • Clothing
    • Electronics
    • Fashion
    • Gifts
    • Jewelry
    • Air Travel
    • Camping
    • Cruises
    • Destinations
    • Outdoors
    • Article Writing
    • Book Reviews
    • Copywriting
    • Fiction
    • Non-Fiction
    • Poetry
    • Quotes
    • Screenplay
    • Tools and Resources