Everyone knows what we’re talking about when tobacco is mentioned, how it’s used and sold is no question to no one. But you may be surprised to learn that the same can not be said about the tobacco leaf. So little information of tobacco leaf is shared outside of the professional circle, that many are surprised upon learning how tobacco leaf even looks like.
Hopefully, this article will help improve your knowledge on the topic of tobacco leaves. What does tobacco leaf look like? Is it recognizable? Is it edible? How does it taste? And more similar questions, are among the many I receive when the topic of tobacco leaf is raised. Well, to begin with, tobacco leaf is a long, five-petaled plant that can be found in many different sizes.
They vary from around forty to sixty centimetres and have a very unique grass-like scent that will be recognizable for whoever is in touch with them for a couple of times. As for how they exactly look like, words can only do so much and looking up the picture may give you a better, more precise result.

The tobacco leaf itself can be green, yellow or even brown but the nicotine inside always comes with a yellow-tinged extraction. If one is curious to know how they taste like, they can simply crush a small part of tobacco leaf in their mouths and taste the spicy, rich flavour of it for themselves, as tobacco leaf is non-lethal as long as it’s consumed in passable proportions. It is a well-known fact that tobacco is used for smoking in various ways and blends. But it is not, however, common knowledge that tobacco leaf used to be prescribed as a sort of medicine among native tribes. If this method is still exercised, then it is out of the area of the writer’s expertise. Tobacco leaf is also used as an ingredient by cooks and chefs all around the world for its unique flavour.
Take caution while consuming tobacco leaves, for they contain nicotine and any intake of more than 30 mg is toxic and can prove to be lethal. That, of course, applies only to the “healthy” group of people who have no dangerous background diseases (such as heart conditions) and pregnant women.

Tobacco leaf comes in different types; which are, consequently, treated and dried in different ways. Two of the most economically significant tobacco types are Virginia tobacco and Wild tobacco. Oriental tobacco, Borneo tobacco, Asian, Sumatra, and American tobacco all belong to the Virginia subtype and are among the more commonly recognized tobacco products.
Tobacco leaf is harvested, dried, fermented, and sometimes refried to be prepared for shipment and market.

As mentioned earlier, tobacco leaves are harvested differently based on what family of the plant they come from. Some are harvested by the whole plant, and some just by the leaves. Many compare harvesting to curing and as a result, underestimate its importance. It should be noted that this stage is just as fundamental in tobacco leaf’s final quality as the drying stage, and thus, must not be overlooked. The harvesting of plants is of utmost importance in how they’ll turn out eventually, and tobacco leaf is no exception.

The drying stage, also known as curing, comes next. Again, depending on what type of tobacco leaf we are working on, methods may vary. There are several more known methods, though, which are more commonly exercised in this case. They include sun drying, air drying, and flue drying (which is used for Virginia). Curing is where the desired taste and aroma is brought out of each leaf; and thus, it is one of the most ( if not THE most) important stages of the whole process. Too much or too little exposure to sun, wind, or water; can greatly affect the final product and its texture. For this exact reason, it is carried out with utmost caution. Otherwise, it’ll be ruined.

The re-drying phase happens after tobacco leaves are evaluated by a specialist, and sorted in stocks to be shipped to local factories. Of course, each factory has its unique methods, but more often than not, tobacco leaves are re-dried for better uniformity, and then pressed into each factory’s unique case so that they can be sent over to the market.

Another process that is usually carried out by brands with narrower customer targets and specialized products, is ageing. As the name suggests, tobacco leaf is stored for certain amounts of time in this process, so that the rich flavour is brought out and the quality is greatly improved (tobacco leaf can be stored from around several months to several years).

A good, valuable product, will have to be neatly wrapped, stainless, and without any distortions that may suggest high levels of intrinsic moisture. Tobacco leaf should be kept in room temperature or lower (25°c or less) for any temperature of 30 or higher, is a foretelling sign of post-fermentation and can ruin the tobacco leaf’s texture.

In the end, knowing what type of tobacco leaf you’re using, how you’re using it, or how you can use it differently, may change a whole lot of things for the better and give you, or your customer more satisfaction as the result. You may even decide to start up your own business one day or farm your leaves, and one must always start from somewhere, should he not? Even as a curious customer who wants to thrive the market, the more knowledge you have, the better armed you are to make decisions.