My understanding is that the adjective comes from the hue of the
leaf, as it comes from the grower, and seems to be a product of soil
and growing conditions.
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"James Beard" <j...@blckhrse.clark.net> wrote in message
As I understand it, you are saying that the same plant, grown in two
different locations (soil types) will result in a golden virginia in one case
and in a red virginia in another. Is that correct?
Very close to correct. I do not know what a plant would do if grown
in one type of soil first and in another type of soil later. But if
you take two "sibling" plants ready for transplanting to the field,
and transplant one to one type of soil and the other to another type
of soil, the hue of the the two plants when the leaves are harvested
may well be different, due to the difference in soils. The taste of
the tobacco may likewise be substantially different.
Weather, light conditions, and other factors may also be a work.
But for a similar and clear example of tobacco's response to growing
conditions, you might consider the "Havana" tobacco seed brought out
of Cuba and planted in Florida, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic
after Castro took over and started behaving in nasty fashion.
None of the seed planted outside Cuba developed into plants that
could be confused with the Cuban ones. The folks that wanted a
replacement for Cuban leaf/Cuban cigars had to spend years growing
and winnowing out cultivars before they could get plants that
provided quality _similar_ to the old Cuban leaf, despite much
similarity in climate and geological origins of the soil.
> Many tobacco tins describe their contents as containing red virginia,
> orange virginia, or golden virginia. But what exactly is the difference
> between red virginia and golden virginia? The taste of red virginia vs.
> golden virginia is clear enough. But does the difference come from the
> type of leaf used, or, is it from the processing (such as stoving)?
I've been meaning to post a response to this for a while, and I suppose it's
better late than never. I apologize in advance if this is a little
There are a variety of factors which determine the color or shade of the
tobacco you get as a consumer, starting with the plant/soil/climate
equation, moving to the position on the plant and the timing of the harvest,
toward the curing methods, and finishing with the way the tobacco is
processed after curing is complete.
The soil and climate have the most profound effect on the final product. As
a rather radical example, Turkish seeds planted in US soil have produced a
similar cultivar to our own burley - a far cry from the small leaf plant we
associate with oriental tobaccos! Tobacco from nearly adjacent plantations
can have very different characteristics, just from differences in the soil
or irrigation methods. Tobacco loves heat and moisture in the air, with dry
soil. Wetter soil, if I recall correctly, results in more nicotine, while
more humidity and heat results in more sugar. (I'd have to dig out some long
buried texts to provide a definitive comment on this one...)
Curing can make a difference, too. The quicker the cure, the lighter the
color. More precisely, the more the color is "set" in the leaf. Even lemon
grades can end up a little dark if cured slowly. Quick curing also sets the
sugar in the leaf. (Think of corn - the sooner you cook it, the sweeter it
You can't really tell much about a tobacco from the color. In general, it's
assumed that brighter leaf has more sugar, but this is not always the case.
I use two grades of very bright VA, one yellow-orange, one lemon-yellow, and
the darker is definitely sweeter, but the lemon provides some wonderful
flavor notes that aren't in the golden. I've got two grades of red VA here
that look practically identical, yet one is sweet and mild, while the other
is more bitter and almost strong enough to pass for a burley. Appearances
Once the tobacco is cured, it can be further processed. Stoving, steaming,
pressing all will effect both the color and the taste. Even the brightest VA
grades can end up quite dark if subjected to enough heat over a period of
time. In fact, high-sugar bright grades change color more dramatically than
darker grades with less sugar, in my experience.
If I think of more things to add, I'll post them later.
so -if I understand well- the color definition refers to the processed
A lemon virginia will be processed virginia leaf of lemon color, and
so on for golden, orange, red, brown...
I assume the same field, cured in two different ways produces two
different virginia colors. Is it correct?
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Before you buy.
Thanks for the great description. I would certainly be glad to hear more on the