The process begins by pressing the tobacco leaves into a cake about an inch thick. Heat from fire or steam is applied, and the tobacco is allowed to ferment. This is said to result in a sweet and mild tobacco. Finally the cake is sliced. These slices must be broken apart, as by rubbing in a circular motion between one's palms, before the tobacco can be evenly packed into a pipe. Flavoring* is often added before the leaves are pressed. English Cavendish uses a dark flue or fire cured Virginia, which is steamed and then stored under pressure to permit it to cure and ferment for several days or weeks.
There are several colors, including the well-known Black Cavendish, numerous blends, and a wide range of flavors. Modern blends include flavors and ingredients such as cherry, chocolate, coconut, rum, strawberry, vanilla, walnut, and bourbon.
Cavendish tobacco originated in the late 16th century, when Sir Thomas Cavendish, commanded a ship in Sir Richard Grenville's expedition to Virginia in 1585, and discovered that by dipping tobacco leaves in sugar it produced a milder and more mellow smoke.