Basics of hookah theory: types of tobacco leaf

The composition of hookah tobacco is simple: molasses, glycerin, flavorings and preservatives. The main component of hookah tobacco is a tobacco leaf. We have identified 3 main types of tobacco leaves. 


Hookah tobacco as we use it is called "Molasses". Such a tobacco mixture consists of three main components: tobacco leaf, sugar molasses and aromatic additives. It’s a classic hookah molasses. The basis of the mixture is a tobacco leaf. It's what gives the tobacco taste for smoke. It also serves as a source of nicotine. Let's consider the features of the most popular tobacco.


Types of tobacco leaf


There are dozens of varieties of tobacco, the most famous:

- Virginia

- Burley

- Oriental


They have perfectly proven themselves not only in hookah mixtures, but also as a material for the production of ordinary cigarettes, cigars, pipe, snuff and chewing tobacco. Different varieties differ in the content of nicotine, sugar, resins and other substances.


Virginia tobacco leaf


It's hard to find a smoker who hasn't heard of the most famous type of tobacco. Virginia is considered to be a standard of quality. It’s used by all well-known manufacturers: Starbuzz, Social Smoke, Al Fakher, Serbetli, Fumari.


Virginia’s a light tobacco leaf with a low nicotine content. This type of hookah tobacco is great for beginners, because it has a mild taste and light strength.


Virginia is produced in the USA. Like most American tobacco, it is characterized by a high sugar content and less nicotine compared to Arab tobacco. Sugar makes the leaves more heat-resistant, which allows brands to make final cuts for a better disclosure of taste.


Depending on which tobacco leaf processing is used, this type of hookah tobacco is classified into the following varieties:


Gold Virginia (smoked in a flame tupe)

Red Virginia (red leaf with high sugar content)

Virginia (aged under oak press)

Stoved Virginia (steamed and aged under an oak press)

French Virginia (known for its phenomenal absorbency)


Oriental tobacco leaf


Oriental’s also called Turkish tobacco. This variety’s known among hookah tobacco manufacturers for its ability to absorb aromatic additives. It absorbs syrup three times more than Virginia, which makes Turkish tobacco leaves indispensable in the manufacture of natural ingredients mixtures. Recall that natural additives have a low concentration compared to synthetic ones.


Oriental – is tobacco for an amateur. Its leaves’re covered with a protective layer that protects plants from drying out in hot climates. This layer provides a specific taste, which is characterized by sweetness, light spice and a typical tingling on the tongue. The taste’s bright and peculiar. It's hard to confuse it but unlike the Virginia, not everyone likes him. Oriental is originally from Turkey, it’s also produced in Greece and Cyprus. The largest manufacturer is Nakhla.


Burley tobacco leaf


Burley leaves resemble Virginia, but they have a higher nicotine content and a lower sugar content. It’s produced in the USA and Mexico.


It provides a high throat-hit during the smoking, which many associate with a very high strength. Although similar sensations occur with a slight hookah overheating. Therefore, often Virginia-based tobacco may seem stronger precisely due to throat-hit, but this’s only a matter of perception.


Burley  is also divided into two types of fortress:


light – lighter

dark – stronger


There’s no natural sweetness in the taste of both variants. The light variety’s characterized by a nutty aroma with light notes of caramel, while the dark variety’s characterized by notes of prunes and chocolate. For example, Azure Black, Tangiers, Musthave, Element.




In short, there are 3 most common types of tobacco leaf: Virginia, Oriental  and Burley. Virginia absorbs and transfers the taste better. It’s a light strength tobacco. Burley is more heat-resistant and has chocolate notes. Contains more nicotine and often stronger. Oriental has a specific spicy shade and isn’t so popular.


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