Grades of leaf in blends
One tobacco plant can produce several grades of leaf. For example, the leaves at the top of the plant are more exposed to the sun than the ones at the bottom.
Grades are generally determined by a leaf’s position on the plant, its thickness, aroma, graininess and colour (lemon, orange and mahogany are the most typical) and the quality and maturity of the plant. The quality of the various grades is determined by the leaf’s ability to withstand manufacturing, as well as its sensory properties, which can result in taste differences, from a harsh experience to a smoother, richer taste.
Leaf is bought from growers and sent for threshing, which separates the stem and lamina parts of the leaves. It is sorted by grade and each grade is stored to mature for three months to two years to allow for taste variations in the final product.
A typical Virginia style of cigarette
Cigarette brands offer many different tastes and looks. Like many consumer goods, an important difference among brands is based on the different recipes – the way the various grades of tobacco are mixed to make different tastes. Various blend recipes are used to meet the vast range of adult smokers’ preferences.
Factors influencing smoking quality
All the grades of lamina are carefully blended and cut to ensure consistent smoking characteristics. Cut stem is then added to the lamina to produce the final blend.