Choosing the right Pipe Tobacco
Pipe Tobacco is normally sold in two ways, either as loose tobacco or pre-pack tobacco. Rolling tobacco is normally pre-pack, but pipe tobacco can be pre-pack or loose. Loose tobacco is usually bought from a street shop or a specialist tobacco company, either online or via phone order, and is shipped to the tobacconist in large jars. The tobacconist will then take your desired amount from the jar and place it in a bag or pouch for your consumption. Pre-pack tobaccos are, however, bought very much like cigarette hand rolling tobacco, either in plastic pouches or in small, round tins.
Choosing between loose and pre-pack is a difficult decision, as their differences truly are "6 of one and half a dozen of the other". The advantages of pre-pack is that it rarely dries out in the tobacconists due to its sealed, individual packaging and is of a more consistent and reliable quality, whereas loose tobacco tends to have far more flavour (in a good batch) and is more pleasurable to smoke, but can be prone to drying out or losing it's texture whilst being stored in a jar. Choosing between the two is therefore entirely a matter of taste.
Varieties of Tobacco
There are many different varieties of tobacco, so be careful to pick the right one for you.
Virginia - the most widely grown tobacco plant worldwide. It has the mildest flavour, but contains a high amount of sugar, so can often burn intensely by itself, it also has a high amount of nicotine. It has a distinctive and pleasant sweet taste.
Burley - a sister plant of Virginia which was developed after the American Civil War. It tastes of natural and pure tobacco, and responds well to flavourings. It has a dry and aromatic scent, and it said to taste almost like chocolate. It has low sugar content and quite a strong taste.
Kentucky - As the name suggests, this is grown mainly in Kentucky, USA. It is a very strong tobacco with a high nicotine content, rough texture and a dark brown colouring.
Cavendish - This tobacco was named after an Englishman, Lord Cavendish. This tobacco is normally a mix of Burley and Virginia. It is a dark tobacco and is known to be quite mild, soft and sweet.
Oriental - This tobacco resembles Virginia tobacco and has a naturally sweet taste.
Latakia - This oriental tobacco is very dark in colour with a special aroma and very characteristic taste.
Perique - Dark in colour with special aromas and taste and is famous for being quite strong.
Of course, varieties of tobacco are often mixed to create a unique blend, sometimes incorporating flavourings such as cherry, vanilla, menthol and chocolate. Pipe smokers often experiment a lot as to which of these flavours they prefer, or some tend to continue smoking plain unflavoured tobacco.