Turkish tobacco or Oriental tobacco is highly aromatic, small-leafed variety of tobacco which is sun-cured. Historically, it was cultivated primarily in Thrace and Macedonia (region)|Macedonia, now divided among Greece, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, and Turkey, but it is now also grown on the Black Sea coast of Turkey, in Egypt, in South Africa, and elsewhere.
The name ‘Turkish’ refers to the Ottoman Empire, which ruled the historic production areas until the late 19th/early 20th century.
Many of the early brands of cigarettes were made mostly or entirely of Turkish tobacco; today, its main use is in blends of pipe and especially cigarette tobacco (a typical American cigarette is a blend of bright Virginia, Burley and Turkish).
Turkish tobacco is also cultivated in Egypt and other parts of the world. Turkish tobacco is sun-cured, which makes it more aromatic and, like flue-cured tobacco, more acidic than air or smoke-cured tobacco, thus more suitable for cigarette production.
Turkish tobacco has a much milder flavor and contains less nicotine and fewer carcinogens than other varieties. In order to get an American Blend type of cigarette, it is mixed with more robust tobacco such as Virginia tobacco and Burley. Cigarettes containing only Turkish tobacco, like Murad, Helmar, Balkan Sobranie or those supplied by urban tobacconists like Fribourg & Treyer or Sullivan Powell in London, are no longer existent. Turkish tobacco plants usually have a greater number and smaller size leaves. These differences can be attributed to climate, soil, cultivation, and treatment methods.
Tobacco originated in the Americas and was introduced to the Ottoman Turks by the Spanish. The Ottoman peoples over time developed their own method of growing and using tobacco. The Ottomans also developed different methods of consuming tobacco, including the Hookah.