Blended tobacco leaf is typically made up of three main tobacco leaves most commonly but not restricted to Virginia, burley, and oriental tobacco leaves. The leaves used in blends are chosen to complement each other and for the customers’ requirements.
A good base is needed for blended tobacco. Generally, only one type is needed, but with Virginia flue-cured, mixing several grades often produces a more ideal blend. Brighter Virginia Flue Cured leaves are used for a sweet, top-note, but should be balanced by darker, more bottom-noted leaf.
Many other tobacco leaves can be used to add spices or seasonings to a blend. Dark Fire Cured, Dark Air Cured, Shade Leaf, Latakia, and Perique are just a few tobacco types that can be used in small quantities to produce a unique blend.
This is, probably, the most commonly used type of tobacco for blends. Its basic characteristics are: sweet, toasty, citrusy, tea-like (will vary depending upon where it’s grown, the colour of the leaf, the way it’s processed, and other factors.
Burley is high in oils and low in sugar and can add a nutty, earthy, and sometimes a spicy note. The darker the Burley, in most cases, the deeper, fuller, and more lively. Burley is normally cooler when burning due to the low sugar levels, but it is one of the stronger varieties in terms of Nicotine content and aroma.
This is a trickier area as the different strains of these tobaccos have widely varying characteristics. Some are very deep, rich, and musky, whereas others are lighter, sweeter with herbal or floral notes. The oriental leaf has an incredible impact on the blend. Among the Orientals, some of the better known include Izmir, Smyrna, Xanthi, Bashi Bagli, Yenidje, Basma, Drama, Samson, and Katerina. Overall, there are 40+ strains of these tobaccos, and Latakia is made by hanging Oriental leaves in a building with wood smoke.