How Is Pipe Tobacco Made?

Three varieties of pipe tobacco are sold.
Hemera Technologies/ Images

Pipe tobacco is an alternative to tobacco used in cigarettes or cigars, but, like all tobacco, it comes from the tobacco plant. To make pipe tobacco, the preparation process varies depending on what type of pipe tobacco is being created. The three different varieties of pipe tobacco include Aromatic, Non-Aromatic and English Blend, all of which have distinct flavors and manufacturing processes.

The Basics

All tobacco comes from the tobacco plant, which thrives in warm climates. Once the plant is ready to harvest, the tobacco is generally cured for somewhere between 70 to 90 days, which allows the plant to dry out and also causes a chemical change called fermentation that alters the flavor of the tobacco since tobacco initially has a bitter taste when harvested. It is during the fermentation process that nicotine is produced.

Aromatic Pipe Tobacco

Aromatic pipe tobacco has a distinct flavor added to it during the manufacturing process. These flavors vary widely depending on the blend and can be anything from cherry to vanilla to rum. These flavors are achieved by adding casings to the tobacco. The flavors from the casing are then soaked up during the process, adding the distinct tastes to the final product. Aromatic tobacco is broken up into two different categories -- semi-aromatic and lightly-aromatic -- depending on how much flavoring is used.


Non-Aromatic pipe tobacco doesn’t have any outside flavors. Instead, it relies on the natural flavor of the tobacco after it is fermented. However, in some cases, the flavor of the final pipe tobacco can be altered by specially aging the tobacco or fermenting it longer, which will make it taste sweeter.

English Blend

English Blend pipe tobacco is similar to Non-Aromatic but has a few key differences. The term English Blend was originally coined because England would not allow any additives to be put into its pipe tobacco until 1986, so tobacco manufacturers needed a way to distinguish it from Non-Aromatic pipe tobacco with additives. English Blend tobacco distinguishes itself from other Non-Aromatics through its use of “oriental” tobaccos like Latakia, Virginia and Perique. All of these tobaccos have their own distinct fermentation processes to produce individualized flavors, which vary depending on the manufacturer. Similar to Aromatics, English Blend tobacco uses three different categories to denote the strength of the flavor: mild, medium and full-bodied.