Entering the world of pipe smoking may be a bit confusing for many interested people. This is because, in addition to the choice of pipe, it is above all the choice of pipe tobacco that is a decisive point for the good smoking pleasure of a pipe.

Below we give you a small overview, which should help you to find the right tobacco for you. However, this overview does not generally replace the advice of a friend who is already experienced in pipe smoking or, of course, the advice of a specialist retailer.


Pipe tobacco should be neither too dry nor too moist. The moisture content should be between 13% and 16%. If the tobacco is too dry, it burns faster and can become too hot. This can also damage the pipe and make it unusable. If the tobacco is too moist, it develops more aromas, but also burns worse, tastes sharp, and provides a poor smoking experience.

The different varieties of pipe tobacco

Finished pipe tobacco consists of various raw and flavored tobaccos. The various processing steps and combinations of different tobaccos result in a wide variety of pipe tobaccos or tobacco blends. In Germany alone, pipe smokers can choose from over 700 different pipe tobaccos for their individual smoking pleasure.

In terms of raw tobacco, a distinction is made between Virginia and Burley tobacco. A third, frequently mentioned pipe tobacco is Cavendish tobacco. However, this is not a pure tobacco variety, but the result of processing with steam or heat. 

Virginia tobacco is named after the U.S. state of Virginia, where it was first cultivated. Today, several hundred varieties are grown all over the world, and new ones are added every year. Virginia tobacco is the most widely used tobacco variety in pipe tobaccos. It is also called "light tobacco" because of its orange-yellow color, which it owes to air-drying.

It is also usually sauced and flavored, that is, soaked with a solution containing sugar and aromas and dried again. The tobacco is given a special taste and smell with the aromatic substances. Vanilla tobaccos are probably the best known. Other ingredients are for example: Rose petals, tea, licorice, clove wood, honey, rum, whiskey, chocolate, licorice.

Oriental tobaccos are mostly grown in the Balkans and the Middle East. These areas are located in Greece, Turkey, Macedonia and Syria. Depending on the area of cultivation, they are called, for example, Smyrna, izmir, Samsun. In mixtures they are usually recognized by a light brownish-olive color. Due to the higher temperatures and drier climate, these tobacco plants have adapted to these influences. These tobacco plants do not grow as high, and the individual tobacco leaves are much smaller than, for example, Virginia. In order to prevent evaporation, the plants secrete an oil & wax layer that adheres to the tobacco leaves. These oils are an essential part of the aroma of Oriental leaf.

Latakia is also an Oriental tobacco variety, but it is usually used as a seasoning tobacco. Lakatia tobacco has a distinctive smoky flavor that comes from smoke-curing (fire-cure). The flavor depends on the type of wood used for the fire. Latakia is often a component of English tobaccos.

Burley tobacco is one of the most widely used tobaccos for cigarettes and pipe tobacco. Although these tobaccos are grown all over the world, the typical growing areas are in the USA. Here, it is mainly Kentucky and Tennessee. Burley tobacco requires heavier soils and heavier fertilization than Virginia tobacco.

Burley tobacco varieties have a light brown to dark brown color. This comes from a lack of chlorophyll. This is a large leaf and air dried (aircured) tobacco.

Air drying removes most of the sugar from the tobacco. This gives it its characteristic brown color and cigar-like flavor.

Read also: Air-cured tobacco - here's how air-curing works.

A rare Burley tobacco is Perique tobacco, a red Burley tobacco from Louisiana. Strictly speaking, Perique is not a tobacco variety in its own right, but a processing method. It is made by bringing Burley to fermentation in oak barrels with plum extract. Perique tobacco burns slowly, tastes harsh and is rather strong. Perique tobacco is dried for a shorter time than conventional Burley tobacco. Rich in flavor and nicotine, Perique is mainly used in pipe tobacco blends as a seasoning tobacco.

See also: 

The ingredients of the tobacco blend American Blend.

Rancho tobacco - fine cut

Press and cut types and tobacco blends

Basically, the coarser a tobacco is cut, the slower and cooler it burns. The cut width of a tobacco is an important quality characteristic and influences the glowing behavior of a blend. The most common cut widths are between 1.6 and 2.5 mm.

Pipe tobaccos are also offered in a wide variety of press and cut shapes.

Pressed tobacco

Many pipe tobaccos are so-called press tobaccos. In this manufacturing process, after mixing and moistening, the leaves are pressed together to form a tobacco cake with a pressure of up to 50 tons for at least 12 hours. Some manufacturers heat these presses with steam. After that, the sheets are stored for several weeks to get a full aroma development.

Afterwards, the tobacco cake is cut into bars or "plugs" and further into thin slices. These are then placed in the packaging tins that the customer can purchase. In this process, the tobacco is usually processed into one of the cutting types described below.

Types of cuts

Pfeifentabak bestellenPipe tobaccos processed according to the procedure described above are called Flake Cuts. Other names are Plug (Plug Cut or Plug Slice) and Navy Cut.

The name Navy Cut comes from the fact that this method of processing was originally invented by sailors. It had the advantage that large quantities could be transported in a space-saving manner, and the tobaccos had a longer storage time as a result. This is because the flakes retain moisture longer than cut blends due to the small surface area.

With the flake cut, the pipe smoker can loosen up the slices before putting them in the pipe. Either the tobacco is crumbled in the palm of the hand to the desired fineness, or the flakes are placed in the pipe bent or folded. 

Lighting, as well as being able to hold the tobacco on fire, require some practice, and it is not advisable to start with these pipe tobaccos as a beginner. 

Curly cut is another common cut type. This refers to stranded tobacco that has been cut into slices, usually thinner. Rope tobacco gets its name from the spinning of tobacco leaves into a continuous strand. The rope tobacco is then cut into pieces about 20 cm long, from which the pipe smoker could cut his own desired portion. 

In the Curly Cut, on the other hand, the whole tobacco leaves are spun with the sap veins to form a complete strand of about 3-5 cm in diameter. During this process, olive oil and maple sugar are added drop by drop to the leaves, giving the tobacco its specific characteristics.

Curly Cut tobacco, like Flake Cut, is placed in the pipe in slices, bent or folded. Slim, tall pipes are best for this cut type.

Handling this pipe tobacco also requires practice and is more advisable for advanced smokers.

Granules or also called cross-cut is granulated tobacco. This is processed like the press tobacco and cut into slices. Through a further cutting process, the cross cut, the typical grain is then created.

Ready Rubbed (Mixture) is the type of cut that is very common today. In this type of cut, the tobacco cake is cut in the same way as in the flake cut, but only once. The tobacco is then cut into flakes (slices) suitable for the pipe in a whirling drum.

This allows the pipe smoker to place the tobacco in the pipe without much preparation. The tobacco burns more easily, and therefore Ready Rubbed is the most likely of the above cut types to be recommended for beginners to pipe smoking. 

Crimp Cut is the name for a short cut pipe tobacco. This cut type is also pressed, but only briefly. The subsequent cut and a special drying process give the tobacco a crimped shape.

Finally, there is the loose cut pipe tobacco. These tobaccos, known as loose cut, are not pressed and do not need to be loosened up before filling the pipe.

These two pipe tobaccos are easier to fill into the pipe, burn more evenly and are therefore highly recommended for beginners.

Storage and care

To get the full enjoyment, you should handle the tobacco carefully. With 'normal' consumption, regular smoking of a pipe with the same tobacco, an opened pack will keep for at least three weeks.

Alternate smokers should put small humidifiers in their tins or packs to maintain the freshness and moisture of the tobacco.

However, if you want to keep your tobacco fresh for a longer period of time, either because you don't smoke often or because you smoke many blends at the same time, you can't avoid buying suitable storage containers. In principle, all containers that close airtight are suitable. Glass containers are particularly suitable.

Pipe tobacco recommendations for beginners

Mild Danish blends



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