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What's Turkish Tobacco and Why Do Pipe Smokers Enjoy It So Much?

Turkish Tobacco

Turkish or oriental tobacco refers to a small-leafed, highly aromatic, sun-cured type of tobacco. Compared to other similar plants, the Turkish tobacco plants tend to have a greater number of small-sized leaves.

The differences among the Turkish tobacco plants are due to a variety of factors, including:

  • Plant treatment methods
  • Cultivation methods
  • The soil used to grow the plants
  • Climate where these plants grow

Origins of Turkish Tobacco

Contrary to public opinion, Turkish tobacco is not from Turkey. Tobacco experts can trace its origins back to Macedonia and Thrace. These two regions are now divided between Turkey, Greece, the Republic of Macedonia, and Bulgaria.

Apart from these regions, other areas known to Grown Turkish tobacco include:

  • South Africa
  • Egypt
  • Black Sea Coast of Turkey

The term "Turkish" implies the Ottoman Empire, which controlled the Turkish tobacco production areas until the early twentieth century. It's also worth noting that many of the early cigarette brands primarily contained Turkish tobacco.

However, times have changed, and Turkish tobacco is now only used in specific pipe blends. As mentioned in the introduction, Turkish tobacco is sun-cured, which assists in making it more aromatic.

It's also more acidic than smoke or air-cured tobacco, making it ideal for use in cigarettes and cigarette production. You should note that this type of tobacco is relatively mild and may contain fewer carcinogens and less nicotine compared to other popular varieties.

Different Kinds of Turkish Tobacco

Turkey is the number one producer of oriental tobacco. It's the same tobacco used in many American blend cigarettes, thanks to its sweet smell and aromatic taste. To date, there are more than 50,000 contracted farmers who grow this tobacco under special conditions.

Izmir (Albanian/Organic/Conventional Turkish Tobacco)

Geographically, this variety of Turkish tobacco grows in the Aegean region. It has a significant unique flavor and a taste signature that varies from earthy to sour or from resinous to sweet.

Izmir Turkish tobacco is mild in strength, with most users describing it as low impact. The tobacco burns slowly, providing the user with a high puff count.


The Izmir variety is widely renowned for its low protein and tobacco ingredients. It comes with a high rate of reducing sugar content. Its overall nicotine content stands at around 1 percent on average, but it may drop to between 0.25-0.30% in certain products.

Its leaves have a high hygroscopicity as it's grown in regions that contain sandy, volcanic, and alluvial soil. Red-brown and gray soil colors are common, with the uppermost layer of the soil remaining quite thin.

The soil often has a low acidic content and may have a clayey or sandy texture. Hot and rainy conditions characterize the cultivation period, and the temperatures often revolve around 22.8 degrees.

Samsun (Conventional Turkish Tobacco)

It's renowned for its slow-burning, aromatic, sweet smells. It does well in slightly sloped areas far away from the seashore with moderately strong soils. Its leaves are small and feature thin, flexible veins.

The leaf surfaces are wavy and have a notched edge. It may feel velvety when touched.


The Samsun variety does well in the Vezirköprü, 19 Mayıs, Canik, Bafra, and Alaçam districts. Samsun has a high hysteroscopy with long-lasting leaves. These leaves have a light red color, a light and spicy odor, and taste sweet when smoked.

Its nicotine content stands between 1.25-1.40%. If you look at the leaves closely, you'll notice that the leaves closer to the root appear darker than those located in the upper parts of the plant.

Samsun offers a high smoking yield characterized by excellent smoking abilities. Its harmonious blend of sweetness and a great odor guarantees a quality smoke. Its production areas are wavy, with most regions containing limestone, clay-rich, brown, and dark gray soils.  The average temperature in the growing areas stands at 21.4 degrees.

Basma (Conventional Turkish Tobacco)

It's primarily grown in the Black Sea region and features a soil-like, sour, sweet, resinous taste. When it comes to its strength, many users rate it as having a light to low impact strength that may have a slight irritation on the throat.

Its aroma is a blend of sweet and sour and is known to leave a good taste when smoked.


The Basma variety of Turkish tobacco is known to do well in the Tasova and Erbaa regions. Its hygroscopicity and cigarette yields are moderate. The tobacco has a nicotine content of around 1 percent.

Its physiological effects tend to be aromatic, tasty, and slow-burning. Experts recommend it for use in Virginia and American blends. With regards to its growth soil, the growing districts have lime, basalt, and clay deposits located in open valleys.

Soil color can vary from light brown to reddish-brown and may contain lime and clay granules. Its average growing temperature stands at around 19.7 degrees.

Why Do Pipe Smokers Prefer Turkish Tobacco?

Turkish tobacco has a mild flavor and contains fewer carcinogens and less nicotine than other known tobacco varieties, helping boost its popularity among pipe smokers. It gets its aromatic flavor from sun curation.

The process also makes it more acidic compared to smoke-or air-cured tobacco. These are the factors that assist in making it ideal for use in cigarette production. It's worth noting that cigarettes containing Turkish tobacco no longer exist, explaining why most smokers prefer to smoke it in pipes.

Quick Facts on Turkish Tobacco

Turkish tobacco is widely popular in Turkey and around the world. It's available for sale from multiple online stores, and you can choose between Izmir, Samsun, and Basma varieties.

  • Turkish tobacco is native to North America and not Turkey. The Ottoman Empire helped import it to Turkey.
  • The tobacco has a mild and highly aromatic flavor that's not too strong to irritate the throat but is also not too thin or too weak.
  • Turkish tobacco is one of the most important export crops from the country and is grown along the Black Sea Coast and the Aegean Coast.
  • The Turkish people are known to fancy pipe smoking, with many choosing to ignore the many No Smoking signs erected in public spaces.
Meerschaum pipes are the most popular for smoking Turkish tobacco.

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