Native American Know-How
Tobacco leaves, before landing on the rolling table and becoming a cigar, must undergo a complex treatment process called fermentation. The need to ferment tobacco was already understood five hundred years ago.
Native Americans tried out many different uses for tobacco: chewing, cooking, grinding and sniffing it. They became accustomed to smoking tobacco. However, green leaves burned poorly, and toxic and harmful substances were released during this process, so the Native Americans took to first partially drying them. As a result what they attained was a fragrant smoke with narcotic properties.
Then, as it often occurs throughout history, the hand of Fate intervened. It happened that they had forgotten about a batch of tobacco leaves. When the batch was found the leaves were rotting, but it was a shame to waste them. It turned out that the cigars made from "rotten" tobacco were less powerful and more pleasant to the taste, and their smoke - more fragrant.
This occurred prior to the arrival of the Europeans in America: according to evidence from some members of Columbus's expedition, Native Americans buried the dried tobacco in the ground, and after a certain time dug it out and smoked it.
Subsequently Spaniards improved the fermentation process, but the historical "patent" so to speak for this invention nevertheless belongs to Native Americans.
In our time the process called fermentation, i.e., treating tobacco before it reaches the rolling table, is divided into three stages: drying, strict fermentation and aging.