Pipe Tobacco Guide: Back to Basics

If you are just getting into pipe tobacco, there’s a whole world of flavours, styles and choices waiting for you.

It’s a bit like choosing a favourite wine or finding the best craft beer.

Pipe smoking has been traditionally seen as a fine art best suited for skilled and experienced gentlemen.

But there isn’t much to it. You just need to know about the different types of pipe tobacco and learn how to pack a pipe.

Pipe Tobacco vs. Cigarette Tobacco

While both types of tobacco carry most of the same health risks, cigarettes are the worse of the two.

They have a higher chemical content. Furthermore, the smoke from a cigarette is inhaled more effectively into the body.

Cigarettes produce a stronger ‘high’ and are more addictive.

Pipe tobacco is made from leaves that have been heated and burned. Other than the flavours, there are no chemicals added.

The more natural makeup of pipe tobacco makes it less harmful. There’s very little chemical content and less nicotine gets into the body.

Most people who smoke pipes don’t do it for the high. It’s a way to relax and decompress after a long day.

Unlike cigarettes, you don’t feel the need to chain-smoke pipes all day long.

What’s in Pipe Tobacco?

Virtually all pipe tobacco is a blend of tobaccos hailing from different places around the world.

Mixing tobaccos allows manufacturers to produce a specific flavour, taste, burn rate and overall feel.

Some blends are earthy and spicy and others are light and mild. Some are slow burners while others burn fast.

Pipe tobacco also contains added flavours to enhance the taste and smell of the tobacco or to balance a too-strong flavour.

Basic Types of Pipe Tobacco

There are two basic types of pipe tobacco: aromatics and non-aromatics.

Aromatics have a strong aromatic flavour complementing the natural tobacco scents and tastes. Many aromatic brands use fruity aromas like cherries.

You’ll also find pipe tobaccos enhanced with liquor.

Aromatics are great for those who are starting out and would prefer something with a milder tobacco flavour.

But if you’d like to jump right into the deep end, look for a non-aromatic pipe tobacco.

Most non-aromatic tobaccos still contain some complimentary flavour additions but the taste and smell of tobacco is more apparent.

Beyond these two types, there are many individual varieties of pipe tobaccos made from specific types of tobacco leaves.

Some popular varieties include Virginia, Cavendish (a sweet blend of several leaves), Orientals, Latakia Danish Gold and Burley.

How to Choose the Best Pipe Tobacco?

It’s hard to describe a wine to someone. They have to drink it to really know its flavour profile. In any case, they might perceive it differently from you.

The same is true for pipe tobacco.

We can describe the flavours and tastes of different varieties but ultimately, you need to experience them for yourself to find out which one you love.

I highly recommend a visit to a tobacco shop. Smell the varieties they have on hand and ask as many questions as you need.

The tobacconist will do a much better job describing the experience of different types of tobacco and help you find the best one for you.

Note: Smell alone doesn’t tell you everything about a specific type of pipe tobacco. Some tobaccos taste different from what they smell. Before you give up on a certain type because it smells too fruity or earthy, try it first. You might be surprised.

Storing Pipe Tobacco

Whether you are storing a month’s worth of pipe tobacco or you want to age it (yes, you can age pipe tobacco to improve its profile and harmonise its flavour), proper storage is essential.

Poorly stored pipe tobacco can dry out or absorb moisture, both of which can damage your tobacco.

The best way to store pipe tobacco is in an airtight container. A mason jar will do. You can also leave the tobacco in the tin it came in, as long as it stays unopened. For an everyday use, you need to buy a good quality tobacco pouch.

Make sure you keep the tobacco in a dark and cool place. Too much heat can damage it.

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