San Andrés: Land of Tobacco

IMG_7241Nestled among the small cities, villages, and abundance of little-known
tourist delights in Veracruz’ Los Tuxtlas holds one of the world’s oldest cigar-making areas.

The first tobacco plants arrived to Mexico in 1830

Along the Gulf of Mexico, situated among the small cities, villages, and an abundance of wild life, lies the mystic region of Los Tuxtlas, home of the San Andrés Valley and, it just so happens, Mexico’s cigar industry. The first tobacco plants arrived to San Andres in the 1830s and it is here that generations of tobacco farmers have reaped tobacco from the rich volcanic soil and carefully guided its journey to finished cigars. Only Cuba has an older commercial cigar making tradition than Mexico, though, it is believed that tobacco plants probably came from Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, and was most likely first smoked by the continent’s earliest native inhabitants.

 

Tobacco was prohibited for many years; since the beginning of colonial regime, tobacco was viewed negatively for its links with indigenous ceremonies and rituals.

However, after many years of the government restrictions to which tobacco was subjected to, it broke through as a magical resource, and government restrictions were loosened too late and not enough to launch the Mexican cigar company to big time competition, but Mexico has created its own brand of cigars in the last decades.

The product has had mixed results here and there with traditional competitors like cuba; without a doubt habanos are renowned for the quality of their cigars, its design and scent, but the ones crafted in San Andrés Tuxtla are not left behind. The artisan process with which they are created lives on and is evident in the fields, in the tobacco houses, and San Andrés’ tobacco factories. A tour of the tobacco plantings is more than enough to realize the noble origin of the leaves, that once dried will be the raw material of the rolling. The climate of the region goes a long way in allowing the process used to make these local cigars, located in a small mountain range near the coast which enjoys special moisture.

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You’ll find tobacco houses, resembling large mansions in the middle of the field, sun-drenched, keeping leaf-braids separated to be used according to its color, size and shape. Visiting the factories, the places where the tobacco plant is transformed into cigars is an interesting experience. There is a personal touch within every piece and the final package of cigars, perfectly protected by wooden boxes and made to indulge in the experience of carefully breaking the seal enjoying a great quality San Andrés cigar.

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