A good cigar consists solely of tobacco. The quality of this valuable raw material largely determines the subtlety and the aroma of the cigar. Tobacco plantations are to be found in many tropical and sub-tropical countries, and even in regions in Southern Europe. Tobacco plants for cigars flourish on volcanic or clayey soil, rich in humus, in the regions around the Equator. The care and dedication devoted to making cigars begins with the cultivation of the tobacco plant, and consequently with the sowing of the seed.

Tobacco seed is far too small to be sown by hand; for this reason tobacco plantations usually mix the seed with sand and water before it is sown. The seed takes about 80 days to grow into the mature plant. Every hour of those 80 days is important; the tobacco plants are continually monitored to ensure that they receive the correct amounts of sunlight and water that are so essential to the development of the tobacco leaves. All tobacco destined for wrappers is picked by hand, leaf by leaf, from the bottom of the plant upwards - i.e. in the direction in which the leaves ripen. After the leaves have been picked they are thread on fine lines to dry in special drying sheds.

The wind is allowed to pass through the sheds to ensure that the leaves lose 90% of their original weight. The drying process also results in the breakdown of sugars, proteins, and nicotine. Once the leaves are sufficiently dry they are then fermented. Fermentation is very similar to the heating that takes place in hay. Once the leaves have been dried and bundled together they are stacked in large heaps. As a result of the combined effect of the pressure of the leaves on the top of the heap and the moisture content of the tobacco the temperature at the middle of the heap increases to about 50 °C. In order to ensure that this fermentation process is uniform throughout the batch the heap is continually dismantled and rearranged until such time as all leaves have been located at the top, middle and bottom of the heap. This fermentation process imparts the tobacco with its exquisite aroma, colour, and suppleness.

The process also results in a reduction of the concentration of sugars, proteins, and nicotine of the fermented tobacco. The fermented leaves are then selected according to colour and length. Finally, the tobacco leaves are packed in bales and shipped to the cigar factories.

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