From green leaves to brown leaves

Successful performance in the fields is crucial for obtaining good-aromatic leaves in the cigar. But the subsequent operations to the harvest are just as decisive to the conservation of the leaves quality and to the further elimination of irritating substances.

The 2 processes responsible for the changes in leave colour and other properties and contents modifications are the drying and the fermentation.

Freshly harvested green leaves are carried into the drying barns, called casas de tabaco. Pierced by a wire through the basis of the main vein, the leaves are then hanged on long bars. Nicely dressed with numerous green leaves, the bars are then suspended in the barn where temperature and humidity are under close control.
Following the progress of the drying, the leaves are progressively moved up the room, the lower temperatures being near the ground and the higher near the roof. After adequate drying, leaves colour will have migrated from green to dark yellow and to finally have turned light brown. The drying process also modifies the weight of the leaves because of the chemical changes due to respiration of the cells but also due to water losses of the drying itself.

In the same casa de tabaco, the light brown leaves are piled up per priming to form the pilones or fermentation units and are subject to the first fermentation.

After the first fermentation, the selection and classification procedure categorizes the leaves according to colour, texture, and thickness. Separated into wrapper, binder and fillers, leaves are classed also according to their quality and size.

After classification, the leaves are now named by the industrial names of capa (wrapper), capote (binder), ligero, viso (seco in Cuba), and seco (volado in Cuba) instead of by the agricultural names of tabaco tapado (shade grown) and tabaco de sol (sun grown).