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Tobacco Basics - Nicotine & Sugar Content - Curing Methods

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  1. admin

    Kevin

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    Here is some basic information on tobacco that may help you better understand what you are smoking and why you might like it or dislike it. Research has shown that tobacco leaf and smoke can contain up to 3,000 compounds. However, 2 of the most important to the tobacco blender are:

    1. NICOTINE

    - and -

    2. SUGARS

    The sugars refer to naturally occurring reducing sugars as dextrose.

    Since tobacco crops can vary from year to year, they are tested to measure the different levels of these two compounds. Also, having knowledge of the general characteristics of the different types of tobaccos from different locales, and the different types of curing, is what enables the tobacco blender to produce consistent blends with sometimes non-consistent crops.

    The amount of nicotine vs. sugars is usually an INVERSE relationship. Tobaccos high in sugar are usually low in nicotine and tobaccos high in nicotine are low in (natural) sugars.

    Highest nicotine, lowest sugars by TOBACCO type -

    - Burly
    - Kentucky
    - Green River Kentucky
    - Perique

    Highest nicotine, lowest sugars by CURING type -

    - Fire-Cured (with one exception - see below)
    - Air-cured
    - Air-cured, Pressed / Fermented (That's not an official term, but I made it up to describe how Perique is processed.)

    Highest sugar, lowest nicotine by TOBACCO type -

    - Virginia
    - Maryland
    - Turkish / Oriental

    Highest sugar, lowest nicotine by CURING type -

    - Flue-cured

    Flue-curing tobaccos involves heating up the barn while the leaves are hung upside down. The heat is gradually raised using "Flues" which are like big tubes that create an oven-like effect, but the heat is kept under 200 degrees. It takes 3 - 5 days. Most tobacco is flue-cured. The speediness of flue curing makes it economically attractive. It also help hold the sugars in the tobacco by quickly killing the leaf.

    Fire-curing smokes the tobacco, just like smoke-curing meat. Fires are lit on the floor of the barn and the smoke rises to the hanging tobacco.

    Air-curing is when the tobacco is left to dry out naturally without adding heat or smoke. It takes 4 - 6 weeks.

    Sun-curing is like air-curing, but as it's names implies, the tobacco is left out in the sun. Sun-cured tobaccos are usually used for cigars and not often found in pipe blends.

    Here's an interesting rule and an exception to the rule -

    Fire-cured tobaccos like "Dark-Fired Kentucky" and "Green River Kentucky" have some of the highest nicotine and little to no sugars at all.

    However, the quite popular Latakia tobacco is fire-cured, but contains low nicotine and high sugars. This is because Latakia is made from Oriental tobaccos which have high sugar and low nicotine to begin with.

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    Posted 3 years ago #
  2. nabottle

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    Excellent. Thanks for that info Kevin. As a new pipe smoker, I am learning what I like and what I don't. Having the science behind the taste is very helpful. I tend to like higher nicotine with higher sugar content.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  3. admin

    Kevin

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    nabottle - If you like both high sugar and high nicotine, then I recommend the two latest G. L. Pease blends -

    1. JackKnife Plug
    2. Triple Play

    Posted 3 years ago #
  4. nabottle

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    Thanks Kevin. I'll check them out.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  5. nmbigfoot02

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    Some other useful links:

    Tobacco College

    Tobacconist FAQ

    Tobacconist Glossary

    Kevin,

    Where would you say Cavendish falls in your list above? Obviously if it's heavily cased I would expect it to be high in sugars, but what about Cavendish that has not been heavily cased?

    Posted 3 years ago #
  6. docgarr

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    Very informative. Thanks Kevin.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  7. admin

    Kevin

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    @nmbigfoot02

    I am very familiar with http://www.tobacconistuniversity.org/. Jorge hired me to install and custom skin the forums for him:
    http://www.tobacconistuniversity.org/forum/

    That's some of my own work right there.


    Where would you say Cavendish falls in your list above? Obviously if it's heavily cased I would expect it to be high in sugars, but what about Cavendish that has not been heavily cased?

    I may make a new longer post than my reply here at a later date.

    The reason is that the word "Cavendish" is used to define more than one thing, and is ambiguous.

    It is a process that can be used on any type of tobacco. So to say a tobacco is Cavendish is like saying here is some kind of meat that is grilled. Well, what kind of meat? Beef? Pork? Chicken? How is it seasoned?

    Here's an excerpt from one of Russ' articles:

    These tobaccos were originally made by pressing tobacco leaves together, sometimes using heat as part of the process, and frequently by adding flavorings (liquors, syrups, etc.). The tobacco was usually allowed a fair amount of time to mature, marry and assimilate the flavorings, then it would be cut like a flake, and normally tumbled out so it looked like a ribbon cut or a broken flake. Black Cavendish confuses the issue further by using cut tobacco that is typically treated with sugar water and then toasted until nearly black, which caramelizes the sugars and gives the tobacco a brown sugar aroma. What’s confusing is that most of the tobaccos we know of as Black Cavendish (Lane’s BCA, Altadis ZBC) are toasted Black Cavendish with flavorings added, which makes them moist, whereas toasted Black Cavendish tends to be dry. Making things even worse is that through common usage the term has come to mean any tobacco that has been flavored with a casing and/or top dressing. For the record, Cavendishes are usually made of a Burley or Virginia base (often using both) with the possible addition of some Oriental tobaccos as well.

    Common Misconceptions About Pipe Tobacco

    Posted 3 years ago #
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    baldy

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    Thanks Kevin

    Posted 3 years ago #
  9. nmbigfoot02

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    Kevin,

    Great work on the website! I've found it a great resource.

    Thanks for the clarification on Cavendish. I was aware that it was a process and not a tobacco, but it would make sense that the final product would depend on the base tobacco used.

    ETA: This thread screams sticky.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  10. loneredtree

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    Very fine posts Kevin. I have been wanting to keep the Vitamin N as low as possible....Very informative Thanks.

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    Posted 3 years ago #
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    stacen

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    Cheers Kevin, timely thread! I was just searching online to find out what exactly dark fired Kentucky was! Still have one question though... Is it dark Kentucky leaf that has been fired, or Kentucky leaf which has been " dark fired" I'm still unclear... Can't seem to find out online. Have a good one all, the owner just got of our boat and it is time to have an end of charter party! We are taking a month to get back to Florida from Belize, we are researching fishing and diving spots for the owner... Hopefully we'll get a chance to get in a little fly fishing with the owners fishing guides!

    Posted 3 years ago #
  12. james

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    Learn something new everyday.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  13. admin

    Kevin

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    @Stacen - that sounds awesome. The Belize Cayes are beautiful, although I haven't been in 20 years. You need any help on the ship?

    I'm good at making drinks, a good cook, computer whiz and I'm usually pretty charming.

    Is it dark Kentucky leaf that has been fired, or Kentucky leaf which has been " dark fired" I'm still unclear

    Good question. Can you submit that one Mr. Pease, if you please?

    http://pipesmagazine.com/blog/ask-g-l-pease/ask-g-l-pease-to-debuts-on-pipesmagazinecom/

    Posted 3 years ago #
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    stacen

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    hahaha well I'll see what i can do about sabotaging our network! Maybe we'll have to call in some outsie help! will do on the question. Cheers and have a good one.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  15. bubbadreier

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    NEW STICKY!!!! I love new stickies!

    Mason jars and bale top jars, mason jars and bale top jars.... that is all!

    "There’s truth in the statement that pipe tobacco will never be any less expensive than it is today, so think of your cellar as a cost averaged investment" - G.L. Pease
    Posted 3 years ago #
  16. spyder71

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    Just what I was looking for! Only been smoking pipe a very short while and as a 25yr cig smoker I am heavily dependent on nicotine and wondered if I could alter tobacco types in my pipe to maybe reduce this dependence over time. As it is I have reduced my cig intake from 25+ a day to around 6-10(closer to ten) in about a week mostly on a burley and virginia blend I made up to suite my taste. Thanks for the post!

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    Posted 3 years ago #
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    airedeldesierto

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    Interesting article !! nicotine is one of principal factors which I take care .

    I like natural sweeter tobaccos , specially red virginia , orientals with less on latakia ,
    some recomedation about sweet tobacos less in nicotine but nice aromatics and sweeter ?

    Posted 3 years ago #
  18. admin

    Kevin

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    @airedeldesierto

    I like natural sweeter tobaccos , specially red virginia , orientals with less on latakia, some recomedation about sweet tobacos less in nicotine but nice aromatics and sweeter ?

    Check out these as possibilities:

    Cornell & Diehl Manhattan Afternoon

    G.L. Pease Union Square

    W.Ø. Larsen Old Fashioned

    Hearth & Home Lakeland Brickle

    Posted 3 years ago #
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    airedeldesierto

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    Thanks ! sound interesting sweeter low nicotine tobaccos

    Posted 3 years ago #
  20. hobie1dog

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    good one all, the owner just got of our boat and it is time to have an end of charter party! We are taking a month to get back to Florida from Belize, we are researching fishing and diving spots for the owner... Hopefully we'll get a chance to get in a little fly fishing with the owners fishing guides!

    pictures please

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    Posted 3 years ago #
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    thanks Kevin . good post. I find blends and tobacco names confusing and mind daunting. it's like learning a new language. I guess it all the nomenclature I get confused with.I usually just read the label to find "no bite" and that is sweet.

    Posted 3 years ago #
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    whvaughn

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    Great post, thanks! Being an ex-cigarette smoker and long time swedish snus and dry snuff user, I tend to prefer high nicotene content in my pipe tobacco (I regularly smoke GH's Dark Unscented Flake out of my McAuthor (sp?) MM (perfect size for the long GH dark flake). Most would recommend against smokig that amout of Dark Flake, but I find it a wonderful experience. Of course, I've never bee particularly nicotene sensitive and have enjoyed tobacco in practically all forms for many years/decades now (though I currently limit my tobacco to pipe smoking and occassional nasal snuff- perhaps snus when I'm visiting family in Sweden).

    I have recently discovered Rattray's Hal O' the Wynd and am quite happy with it. I absolutely love Va's; however, they are typically lackig (to my taste, that is) in terms of nicotene content (a great example of the inverse relationship between nicotene and sugars). While I enjoy many Va's for their taste profile, I often feel they just miss the mark with vitamin N. Hal O' the Wynd is a notable exception- I really enjoy this blend and feel that it has sufficient vitamin N for my taste. Samuel Gawith's FVF was my "go to" Va for some time; however, it is nearly impossible to find these days (for me at least- I do most of my tobacco shopping online and visit various B&M's while traveling for business).

    So, if you are one who likes a lovely Va with the typical Va sugar profile but also want/need a healthy dose of Vitamin N Hal O' the Wynd may be just what you're looking for. I'm definetly looking forward to trying Jack Knife Plug and am open to any other suggestions. Thanks for the great post!

    Posted 3 years ago #
  23. macnutz

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    Thanks very much for this thread Kevin. You have answered several of my newbie questions. I'm another ex cig smoker who needs the vitamin N component. But wouldn't you know it? I have a taste preference for Va/Lat. blends.

    Your post gives me a better idea of which of my tobacconists house blends to try next.

    Tins? Well, SG's St. James Flake is on the list for the perique. I will have to give the Jackknife Plug a chance, if I can find it here. I think I will try mixing a bit of Brown Rope #4 into some of my favourite low nic. blends.

    You've given me ideas, thanks

    Posted 2 years ago #
  24. seakayak

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    Thanks for the thumbnail sketch of the hobby I have so long enjoyed. I'll copy it and e-mail to myself for future reference.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  25. pjm03fatboy

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    Very interesting Kevin, I would like a few more blends if anyone knows, (sweeter low nicotine tobaccos) thanks

    Posted 2 years ago #
  26. hanymamdouh

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    Good job Kevin, thanks for the valuable post

    Give me a pipe, a pitbull dog, and a book...then leave me in an island for ever...!
    Posted 2 years ago #
  27. biloxi123

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    Thanks Kevin for this thread. I have been here about a year and have only just discovered it. Thanks again!

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    Posted 2 years ago #
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    ozone13

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    Thanks Kevin, great post.

    Posted 2 years ago #
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    mikedv

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    Does a tobacco with high sugar content have any affect if you are Diabetic?

    Posted 2 years ago #
  30. tre123

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    Thanks for the post, being new to this I enjoy learning all I can about it. Very informative, as always. Maybe I will soon find out exactly what type I'm smoking now

    Posted 2 years ago #
  31. davidg

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    Hi,
    Thank you for the article. I'm a novice at pipe smoking and look forward to learning. This kind of material is a big plus. I have a question in a similar vein.
    In many tobacco reviews pipers refer to individual tobaccos and their flavors, ex. latlakia, Virginia, barley, oriental, etc. How is it that one recognizes a tobacco flavor or taste, unless they've tasted such beforehand, in isolation from other tobaccos? If I were eating a mouthful of rice and corn together I'd not know which was which unless I'd tasted both beforehand separately. I'm experimenting with non-aromatics and frankly, while I enjoy the smells, feel of the pipe, tobacco burning, etc. I have no idea what it is I'm tasting. Any assitance and help with this is appreciated. Thank you.
    David

    Posted 2 years ago #
  32. foggymountain

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    Thanks, this is an enormously informative post. Why is Cavendish so named? Is there a connection with Lord Cavendish?

    Posted 2 years ago #
  33. briarbrother

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    I would also like to know what are some great High Sugar/Low Nicotine blends??? Is Mc Clelland's Christmas cheer a High or Nicotine blend? (It is a pure Virginia blend..?) I'm not too fond of high Nicotine blends..I usually stay away from Burley blends

    Posted 1 year ago #
  34. garyovich

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    Being a straight VA, Xmas Cheer is low nic.

    Posted 1 year ago #
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    Anonymous

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    hello people ....

    Are you curious enough about knowing the benefits for the Essential oils and Menthol , that is used in all pipes being used specially in mentholated cigrattes.

    Follow the link to know the latest updates.

    http://kangramints.blogspot.in/

    Waiting for your replies.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  36. bluesmoke

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    Here's another good blog on the subject.

    http://www.apassionforpipes.com/neills-blog/2011/12/19/running-from-the-nicotine-monster.html

    I like the part about using chocolate as a remedy for tobacco head. A reason to eat chocolate AND smoke a pipe? And dark chocolate might work better? I think I can force myself.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  37. drhuff

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    Great information. Thanks Kevin and for the informative link bluesmoke. I didn't have this information when I got hit hard by Haddo's Delight a few months ago but accidentally discovered that drinking sweet iced tea made it ease off quite a bit. Maybe the sugar and caffeine were the ingredients that helped? Eating something (anything) has also seemed to help in a few other milder experiences of nicotine overload. I will remember the chocolate thing though for the next time. Sounds like a much better plan!

    Posted 7 months ago #

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