Among all the ingredients that we find in the composition of tobacco "dishes", the most common tobacco is called Virginia. And of all Virginias, flue cured tobacco leaves are most commonly used in pipe tobacco. With this drying, tobacco leaves are bound in small "brooms" and hung in the tobacco barn. After steaming, the tobacco leaf changes its color, and the chemical compounds in the leaf itself become stable. Such tobacco, also called "Brightleaf", has many undeniable advantages, of which two are especially distinguished: high retention of the amount of natural sugars in the leaf and reduced resin content. The nicotine content of such a leaf ranges from low to medium, but changes in the technology of drying and processing tobacco can affect the amount of nicotine in the tobacco leaf, up to very high levels.
Before talking about the use of Virginia leaves in the preparation of tobacco blends, it is worth noting that the very name "Virginia" can no longer tell us where exactly tobacco is grown. Despite the fact that this variety bears the name of the state of Virginia, it was first grown in North Carolina (Carolina tobacco is a variety of Virginia). Now Virginia is grown in several states of America, in Canada, in the countries of the Balkan region, as well as in Africa, Asia and South America.
Virtually no pipe tobacco is complete without the addition of Virginia.- whether it be Latakia mixture, Oriental or Berliy "aromatic". Of course, it is not complete without it in the popular mixtures of Virginia and Perica. The Virginia used in the blend can either consist entirely of Brightleaf, or only partially, complementing Virginia prepared in other ways.
By other means I mean, for example, fire-dried Virginia leaves. By the way, the latter are very often used in the production of chewing tobacco. This tells us that Virginia's popularity is not limited to pipe tobacco. In addition, many cigarette manufacturers use Virginia in their production, loudly proclaiming that only the best cigarettes are made from Virginia. For cigarette production, the same (in most cases) steam dried Virginia leaves are used.
What makes Virginia so popular? First of all, this is that Virginia tobacco leaf significantly transforms the blends to which it is added. In its natural form, the tobacco leaf has a color ranging from lemon yellow to golden (remember, we are talking about flue cured Virginia). With a natural sweetness, Virginia leaves are acidic. It is these properties of the leaf that are recognized by smokers as the “citrusy taste” of tobacco.
The natural sweetness "Brightleaf" is used in the blend to add sweetness where it is lacking. Or to change the nature of the existing sweetness. A change or addition to the tobacco processing process changes the flavor characteristics of Virginia and the flavor appears those shades that we perceive as aromas of rye bread or dried fruit.
Also for artificial "maturation" (mature) can be used additional types of processing of tobacco leaves with heat and / or pressure. The heat treatment "caramelizes" the sugar in the leaves, which somewhat alters the very nature of the sweetness and adds some depth to the taste. Baking, which includes roasting the tobacco on large sheets of steel, makes the tobacco much darker in color. Its aroma becomes more intense. Different degrees of roasting change the flavor characteristics of the tobacco leaf to varying degrees.
Pressing and tightly twisting Virginia leaves into a kind of ropes leads to the destruction of the leaf cell walls, which also leads to caramelization of sugars. This directly affects the flavor of the tobacco, giving it the characteristic “caramel” sweetness and depth of aged tobacco, with less production time. For example, fig and prune flavors are prominent in aged tobacco, but can be discerned in many natural flakes as well.
Steamed Virginia leaves on their own, when smoked, provide a multifaceted flavor and aroma. Although many people find this taste one-sided or too weak, they quickly lose interest in Virginia. And in vain. Using fire-cured Virginia or Virginia in the blend gives pipe tobacco incredible depth and number of flavor gradations.
The use of press-aged tobacco in the mixture changes the character of the tobacco taste, making it noble and soft. The combination of flavors used by Virginias tends to infinity, which, when used with other varieties and types of tobacco, opens up a truly limitless universe of flavors.
For example, using Virginia in Latakia blends can sweeten Latakia's own smoky flavor . Can emphasize it while giving it depth at the same time. By experimenting with the amount of added ingredients, you can achieve that Latakia will accentuate Virginia, while leaving the "culinary masterpiece" itself within the framework of absolutely Latakia blends. And over time, the aging of the tobacco , Virginia can lift the taste of such a mixture literally to heaven.