Pipe tobacco is a common form of tobacco that typically comes in baggies or tins. Many smokers prefer pipe tobacco over cigarettes for smoking, and roll their own cigarettes using cigarette rolling machines. The English blends (often also called "mixtures") normally include no artificial additives. Usually they contain as a vital ingredient strong and smoky Latakia coming originally from Syria. For a novice starting his adventure with pipes it still today is common to tell about some old myth about Latakia, namely that it gets its personal taste from camel dung. Tobacco is supposed to dry hanging on rafters inside of primitive buildings heated by burning camel dung in a stove.There are many different "cuts" and "types" of pipe tobacco.
 Different Cuts
FLAKE: Tobacco that has been pressed into a brick then cut into flat flakes that may vary in size. It must be rubbed out into smaller pieces before smoking. Generally flake tobaccos are cool burning and with a few exceptions (Gawith Balkan Flake, Krumble Kake), are pure Virginia's. RIBBON CUT: Tobacco that has been pressed then cut into long, thin ribbons. It is not as long or as fine as SHAG cut. Shag cut is very similar to cigarette tobacco in cut. This can be Virginia or Oriental. CUBE CUT: Tobacco that has forced through a sieve, grate or chopped into small pieces that are often square. Typically, cube cuts are Burley tobacco. CURLY - this is tobacco leaf spun into rope and sliced. It typically is very slow burning hence it is cool smoking. SHAG: Tobacco which has been very finely long cut. In Edwardian times it was considered an poor quality tobacco. Today, it is not. An example is McClellands Shag Cuts, Baker Street, 221 , etc. Most shags have a high proportion of Virginia in them as Virginia tobaccos have long leaves that allow this cut. NAVY CUT: Originally the tobacco was favored by sailors. They would put it in a long thin canvas tube and twist it tight. When taken out it was a thick rope of tobacco that they could carry in their pocket. They could cut off a plug to chew or slice it to smoke in a pipe. Escudo, Three Nuns Slices and Bengal Slices are types of sliced plug. Normally it is a slow burning tobacco fitting with its sailing origins. Navy blends are often steeped in Rum as this what sailors used to to do.
 Types of Pipe Tobacco
60% of the United States tobacco crop is grown in Virginia. This pipe tobacco has a delicate fruit-like flavor which makes them subtlety sweet. They are rather tangy but are pleasant on the palate, reminiscent of a mild salsa. The best matured Virginia s are naturally sweet and clean-smoking tobaccos that fill the mouth with flavor. You will notice a flavor curve that is zesty at light up and then turns richer as the tobacco is smoked. Virginia tobaccos are also important components of aromatic and flavored blends.
Burley tobacco is the next most popular tobacco for pipe tobacco blending. The technical term for Burley is 'air cured'. This air curing is done in large open barns, by the natural air flow, for one or two months. The color is ranging from light brown to mahogany. Most burley, which has virtually no sugar of its own, is 'cased' or flavored with sugars of one kind or another and this rich, full-flavored tobacco has traditionally been the base of the majority of American-style sweetened blends. When smoked, cased burley starts light, mellow, and mildly nutty, with no sharpness. If it is of good quality and has been handled properly, it will produce a rich, full flavor somewhat like sweet oatmeal or granola, with a caramel character coming from the burnt sugars.
 Spice Tobacco
Spice tobacco is not a single type of pipe tobacco, but a mixture or blend of sever different types of pipe tobacco described below. Most of these types below are used primarily in English blends. Many people refer to 'English Tobacco'
when describing the types they like best. English tobaccos are simply tobaccos that have had no flavors added during the curing process. Therefore English tobaccos are usually a mixture of different types of tobacco, but have no flavors added during curing.
- Oriental: This naturally aromatic, heady tobacco comes from the Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, and other Eastern Mediterranean countries. The finest Orientals, often called 'Turkish' tobacco, has a flavor that is delicately spicy. Used in small quantities, it gives to 'English' or 'Oriental' mixtures a sweet, yet piquant character. Sun-cured Oriental leaf has a greenish-yellow to golden brown color. Second only to flue-cured Virginia in natural sugar content, the finest Orientals from Greece and Turkey are mildly sweet and have an herbal or spicy character with an incense-like aroma. The best known types are Izmir, Samsun, Yedidje, Cavella and Bursa.
- Latakia: Latakia is the result of a curing process involving fire curing the leaves over controlled fires of aromatic woods and fragrant herbs. Probably the most well known spice tobacco. Mainly grown in Cyprus and northern Syria. After the leaves are harvested and dried, they are hung in tightly closed barns and smoke-cured. Small smoldering fires of oak and pine fill the barn with smoke, and covering the leaves with smoke particles. Latakia was 'discovered' when a bumper crop resulted in surplus, and the excess tobacco was stored in the rafters. The peasant farmers traditionally used wood and when short of wood camel dung for cooking and heating in the winter. The smoke cured tobacco unique flavoring and taste was discovered the following spring. Latakia produces a very rich, heavy taste, with an aroma that has a 'smoky' characteristic. Latakia is an indispensable ingredient of traditional English mixtures. The content can vary from a few percent to about 40-50%, or even more. A few smokers like it at 100%. This would tend to be harsh, not because Latakia is a strong tobacco, but because it burns and tends to dry out your mouth and throat.
- Actually Latakia has never come close to the camel dung, that is just a myth perpetuated throughout the Pipe community. It gets its unique flavor from the fact that its stoved over oak fires for a season.
- Perique: Perique is a Red Burley type of tobacco, grown and processed in St. James, Louisiana near New Orleans. Perique is a rare, slow buring, strong-tasting tobacco. Production is small which makes it a bit more expensive. Perique is a deeply aromatic tobacco with a fragrance somewhere between cooked fruit (prunes) and sauted mushrooms. Like latakia, perique is a naturally fermented condiment tobacco and is used rather sparingly. Its rich, black color and leathery texture compliment its delicate flavor. Before fermentation, perique appears most like Kentucky burley. During fermentation, the tobacco steeps in its own juices for 10 months before further aging. Perique is the truffle of tobaccos, rare and precious for its distinctive pungency.
Cavendish is a process of curing and a method of cutting tobacco leaf; the term does not refer to a tobacco, but a type of manufacturing process. The processing and the cut are used to bring out the natural sweet taste that is a characteristic of Virginia tobacco. This process will create a tobacco very light in taste, quite mild and easy to pack. English Cavendish uses a dark flue or fire cured Virginia which is steamed and then stored under pressure to permit it to cure and ferment for several weeks. Cavendish can be produced out of any tobacco type (mainly Virginia s and Burley s). The original English Cavendish is produced out of Virginia tobacco, which is slightly flavored and heated by high pressure. This will give you a very dark, black tobacco. The modern version of Cavendish is generally much more flavored. The natural taste of tobacco is almost gone. The flavoring is also called Casting. This is the term used when you add a considerable amount of additives to the tobacco. This is usually done by producing a fluid mixture of sugar, liquorice or any kind of aromas in which the tobacco is soaked. The goal is to produce a sweet and smooth aroma. Modern Cavendish tobacco comes in numerous flavors, cherry, vanilla, rum, chocolate, strawberry, coconut, and many other flavors.
This by far doesn't cover all of the different types of pipe tobacco, but knowing what each of the major types taste like will help you decide which is best suited for you. As you progress through this wonderful hobby your tastes will change and you ll begin to appreciate a wide variety of pipe tobaccos.