Sabiá Tobacco


A very finely ground batch of Sabiá rope tobacco.
Sabiá is a strong type of Nicotiana Rustica and is an excellent choice to use for rapé.


About Sabiá Tobacco

A very finely ground batch of Sabiá rope tobacco.
Sabiá is a strong type of Nicotiana Rustica and is an excellent choice to use for rapé.

Introduction to tobacco

In our culture, there is still a lot of misunderstanding about the tobacco plant. Many people associate it with addiction and death and considering it is one of the top killers in some countries, this is understandable. But for thousands of years, tribal societies have worked with tobacco as medicine and have considered it to be one of the earth’s greatest healing plants.

There are no doubt many different reasons for these divergent perspectives on tobacco, but my understanding is that the main defining factors are intention and respect.  Tobacco is considered an amplifier of intention, prayers, and thoughts, so when you ask the plant for medicine and protection, that is what gets amplified.  If you are using rapé angrily and habitually to relieve frustration and desire, that amplifies something else. This being said, I am suggesting to anyone who feels the call to work with rapé to be mindful about their usage.

Shamanic use

In shamanic culture, the usage of Nicotiana Rustica and other forms of tobacco are often a way to clear energy. The understanding of this really starts with more of an understanding of how a shaman would generally interpret nature. For a shaman, there is a thin line between this world and the spirit world, and all living organisms have a spiritual essence to them, as well as a physical one. The shaman’s job is to communicate between the worlds to understand the properties of specific spirits and then bring back these ideas for personal healing, world healing and/or the healing of the people they are working with. So when a shaman sees tobacco, it is not just the physical substance, but a spirit that accompanies it.

Peruvian shaman smoking his pipe with sabiá rope tobacco

Peruvian shaman smoking his pipe

There is no doubt that nicotine is an addictive substance and Nicotiana Rustica, in particular, has a very high quantity of nicotine in comparison to other types of tobacco. However, the fact that something is addictive does not take away from the fact that it could have healing properties- making it both addictive and beneficial. Nicotiana Rustica is a contradictory medicine in the fact that it works as both a stimulant and a relaxant. Shaman often uses it for help with setting intentions and for awakening the mind while still being able to ground that awakening.

close up of a 2 hands weaving tobacco leaves to rope tobacco

Production of rope-tobacco

Brazil has a big and surprisingly a pre-industrial tobacco industry. Tobacco growing is very common in certain regions in Brazil and is deeply embedded in its culture. Brazil is the second largest producer of tobacco in the world. Within that market, only a few types are suitable for the production of rapé. For the production of rapé most people exclusively use various types of rope tobacco from Nicotiana Rustica.

The production of rope tobacco is hands-on craftsmanship. The rolling of the tobacco leaves into ropes is still a craft en requires experience and skill. After harvesting the leaves comes the sorting of them by the quality and placing them on drying racks in the shade. After 8 days of drying the leaves are ready for the next phase. The first step is the removing of the central leaf grain from the partly dried leaves. Interlacing and twisting of the split leaves follow and gives the tobacco its rope shape. After establishing the desired dryness the newly formed tobacco ropes are being left to ripen.  There the slow fermentation process creates more flavor and delivers the final dark brown appearance of rope tobacco.

various rolls of sabiá rope tobacco begin dried in the sun


All the tobacco powder that you find here are from Nicotine Rustica. There are various in various strains and grades of tobacco in Brazil, probably more then I know of. For rapé the producers use a few of these varieties. These are Arapiraca, moí (moy) and sabiá tobacco. Besides these three types, there are also wild tobaccos. The cultivation of the wild tobaccos takes place near rivers bank and cleared spaces in the Amazonian forest. In the past, The indigenous Amazonian tribes only had wild tobaco available to make rapé. But nowadays the Brazilian Indians also have access to all other types of tobacco and use all of them.


Tepi and Kuripe

Traditionally Rapé is administered through a pipe made out of bamboo or bone. The Tepi is a blowpipe that you can use to administer another person. When receiving Rapé the other blows it through both nostrils. In general, the shape of the Tepi is straight, curved or V-shaped. A different form is self-administration. For this, you use a Kuripe. The Kuripe has a V- shape and connects the mouth to the nostril. In this case, you blow the Rapé to yourself.

Tepis receiving blessings from their creators

I sieve this sabiá coming from my shop through a 120-micron high-grade stainless steel mesh. This makes an extremely fine powder. It’s labor-intensive but guarantees a consistent fineness, cleanness and optimal absorption of the Snuff. I store the Rapé stock dry and in vacuum containers to prolong freshness and quality.