A big percentage of the male population in China smoke tobacco. So do women but the most important thing is that cigarettes make perfect gifts. In fact, the custom is that at dinner, you will be offered a cigarette from one brand or other.
Even if you are not a smoker, you will still be offered cigarettes. With so many different brands, you will definitely be dazzled by the choices. However, after reading this article, you will be able to tell one cigarette brand from another.
Tobacco is big business in China. Most cigarette brands are unique to their home areas or towns. Some are handmade and costly while others are just regular brands. Whatever you are offered after dinner or just after a talk, at least you should know what it is.
1. Zhonghua (中华香烟)
This is one of the most well known cigarette brands in China. Chances are that business colleagues and friends will offer you this at one time or another as a gift. Nothing can placate you any better than a Zhonghua cigarette after a heavy dinner.
It is quite a revered brand such that it is given as a gift to executives, business leaders and even political leaders. The who-is-who in China smokes this brand. It is seen as an indication of success and high social status in life. It costs about RMB50, not too high and not so low, which makes it a good brand to collect or to give away as a gift.
When buying a packet of Zhonghua, it should be easy to recognize. It has the image of the Tiananmen Square on the packaging. Perhaps this is the reason why it is associated with Chairman Mao. The red color of the package is hard to miss.
2. Hongtashan (红塔山)
China is a timeless country, seems to be as old as time itself. That is why you should smoke one of their oldest cigarettes when you visit. Right out of Yunnan Province comes the Hongta Shan brand, which was established in 1959. Since then, it has been one of the most appreciated brands in the country. Yunan is one of the leading tobacco provinces in China, with brands that are smoked locally and internationally.
The biggest production facility for this cigarette brand is in Yuxi near the Hongtashan Hill, hence its name. It is also exported to other countries. For example, it is exported to the USA where it is referred to as the Red Pagoda Mountain cigarette.
One other reason why this brand is so popular is that it has something for everyone. There is a RMB10 pack that is high in nicotine and sugar and then there is the brown pack one that costs RMB60, which is considered high-end and is usually used to impress, as a status symbol.
3. Furongwang (芙蓉王）
If you are a high-end businessperson or a tourist with money to spare, you probably want to try the best tobacco that China has to offer. Same as there is luxury food in China, there are luxury cigarette brands too. You are in luck with the Furongwang cigarette because it is one of the best China cigarette brands.
For a taste that will remind you of a cigar from Havana in Cuba, you would be willing to pay more. The Furongwang cigarette brand is one of the most revered in the market, the kind of cigarette that has truly earned the name high-end. Some of its models such as the Gold are the preserve of royalty, military officials, executives and business people.
This expensive brand costs up to 20 dollars for a pack of 20 in Chinatown, in the US. This cigarette is made from choice tobacco leaves. It is ranked as one of the top three brands of tobacco from the country.
4. Huanghelou (黄鹤楼)
Specifically, this must be the Huang He Lou 1916, which is listed as not only one of the best China cigarette brands, but is also top five in the list of the most luxurious ones. For someone to give you a pack or carton of these cigarettes, it means they value you a lot because it is very expensive.
From the tobacco selection process where a kilo of tobacco is produced by the very best graders from 200 kg of tobacco, to packaging itself, this brand is awesome. In fact, a technician makes every case of these cigarettes, imparting years of skill and experience to the process.
This is a product of Hubei Province, but it also international. Some of the models of this brand are bought as collector’s items. The tobacco is so rich such that if you get a puff, you will spend the rest of your life looking for a pack of Huang He Lou. It is named after a popular ancient building in Hubei.
In production since 1916, this product is at the epitome of its beauty and efficiency. If you are visiting Shanghai, you are likely to get this cigarette brand in social circles.
5. Shuangxi (双喜)
Established 113 years ago, with the Shuangxi, also called Shuang Xi cigarettes, you will get an opportunity to smoke a brand that is older than you and will probably outlive you. It is called Double Happiness in English and it is easy to see why. After all, the tobacco is so refined, and the taste is so glamorous on the taste buds with excellent flavors.
Most people who have tried these cigarettes never forget the dried plum taste. After all, it is not every time that you get such a taste in cigarettes. Please note that this brand is also on the high side of cost. The yellow packaging of the cigarettes is reminiscent of happiness. This is why they make a popular gift for the Chinese New Year as well as for weddings.
When the Nanyang Brothers launched this cigarette brand in Hong Kong in 1906, they probably did not dream that it would be one of the most high-end brands in China. Today, the brand name owner is Shanghai Tobacco Corporation, a state-owned corporation. This popular brand is easy to find in most of the duty-free shops in the world, thus making its price more affordable for many people.
6. Liqun (利群)
Liqun is a product of the Hangzhou Cigarettes Factory. It has been in production since 1960. It is considered one of the most popular cigarette brands in the country. This cigarette is known most for its elegant flavor and smell.
One of the most popular models is the Liqun Soft Sunshine cigarette. It is a bit pricey, but it is worth it, for people who know their tobacco.
You will love the mellow taste that it leaves in the mouth even long after smoking it. You will also love the long after-taste and again, this cigarette is not too hard on your throat. While some people say that the tobacco is not dense enough, you will love how this cigarette tastes.
The packaging is quite good too, looks like something that you would love to give away to a person that you cherish.
7. Lesser Panda (小熊猫)
The Lesser Panda cigarettes are a product of the Shanghai Tobacco Company, but the tobacco is grown in Sichuan. These cigarettes contain high nicotine content. However, you should not worry about that if you are the kind of person that prefers a mellow taste. You see, it has an excellent filter that can filter some of the heaviness out, leaving you with a nice aftertaste even after smoking.
Lesser Panda cigarettes are not any lesser than the others in the market, so do not let the name deceive you. Most tourists love them for their beautiful packaging and affordable pricing. Lesser Panda is a premium brand of cigarettes and it is often offered as gifts.
A cigarette that has often been associated with high social standing and power, it owes some of its success to Deng Xiaoping, the Communist Party leader who never appeared in photos without a smoke in his hand, often a Panda.
8. Yunyan (云烟)
Also referred to as Yun Yan, there are many reasons why this is considered one of the best China cigarette brands. These cigarettes come in many different names, and they are manufactured from hand-selected tobacco leaves.
The first impression that you get of these cigarettes especially if you come from the west is their long size. They are wrapped in brown, but the nicotine content is lighter, thanks to the excellent filter. The taste is creamy and lurks slightly longer in the mouth, but not in an unpleasant way.
The cigarettes are packaged in attractive packaging. Most travelers to China cannot help but be stunned by the packaging, as most come from places where cigarettes are packaged in bland material.
The YunYan cigarette is manufactured by HongYun Tobacco Company Ltd, which also produces other related products such as cigars. When you take a puff of this cigarette, you will love the rich and authentic taste.
9. Yuxi (玉溪)
To the Chinese, the Yuxi brand name stands for much more than just cigarettes and tobacco products. This company, which is based in Yunnan has built roads and schools among many other community projects. When you buy their cigarettes, you can be sure that some percentage of the money is going to very helpful projects. They have even made a cigarette themed park in Yuxi.
They have many different packs, some of them like the Silver pack are quite affordable. Others such as the diamond pack are very costly and are mostly given as high profile gifts. Because of the cost, the premium diamond pack is produced in low quantity, thus making it quite scarce. However, if you are having a high profile business meeting in China, do not be surprised to be gifted the diamond pack.
Some of their most popular cigarettes include Yuxi Soft, Yuxi 108, Yuxi High Version, Soft Realm, Ruan Shangshan, Hard Harmony and Hard Manor. They cost different prices depending on how rare or premium they are.
10. Baisha (白沙)
Sometimes, the goodness of a puff is not measured by the price that you pay for a cigar. The best things do not have to cost all the much as evidenced by the Baisha cigarette brand. It is manufactured in Hunan, the hometown of Mao, it is a favorite of soldiers and as a result, the price is very affordable and the character quite unassuming. It is very affordable and common in many parts of China.
Even if the branding is nonchalant as compared to many other brands from China, it is still impressive. You will recognize this brand of cigarettes by the white crane on its pack. The prices start at RMB5, RMB10 and RMB15. The RMB10 pack is more popular with Maoxians.
11. Pride (娇子)
Pride is a favorite of many people that come from Sichuan. It might not be as affordable as the Baisha brand, but it is reasonably priced.
There are many products under this brand name. The most popular ones include Pride Hongyun, Pride Sunshine Hard, Pride Legend Tianzi and many others. Some of these products are quite pricey, costing even up to $200 online, but there are affordable ones too.
Every one of the Pride cigarette series is made to meet the nicotine needs of everyone. Whether you buy a light or medium pack, you are assured of a satisfying puff. The wide range of products under this name makes it one of the best China cigarette brands.
12. Zhongnanhai (中南海)
If you land in Beijing, you will find that the most common cigarette brand is the Zhongnanhai. In China, different cigarette brands are associated with certain areas, mostly where they are manufactured. Thus, if a person is from Beijing, they are most likely going to be smoking this brand.
This brand name was specifically made for Mao in the 1960s. This is not unusual because most brands of cigarettes in China are associated with prominent persons. The name comes from the government building for the Communist Party, which is in Beijing.
If you do check on different China travel forums, you will find that this is one of the most popular cigarettes with foreigners. Maybe it is because of the light nicotine content and the wonderful flavors. You will find 1, 5, 8 and even 10 mg nicotine packs so you can choose what you think is most appropriate for you.
13. SuYan (苏烟）
Su Yan is another popular high quality brand of cigarettes that you will find in China. It is mainly considered a brand for the executives, politicians and other high profile persons. Established in 2001, it might be one of the youngest brands in the Chinese market but it is still one of the very best products.
Everything, from the cigarette itself to the packaging oozes quality from every pore. You will recognize these cigarettes by their name printed near the top of the packet. Some like the Suyan Platinum Crystal can be quite highly priced while others such as Suyan Jinsha Soft are moderately priced.
With the cheapest pack costing RMB60, you can see that this brand is quite the premium. You will get this brand at high profile dinners and other such social meets because it is mainly for making an impression.
14. Huangshan (黄山)
This is the flagship product from Anhui CNTC and it was launched in 1953. However, the creation of the Special Huangshan series saw this brand succeed in such a big way. Once you have tasted the robust flavor of these cigarettes, it will be hard not to get hooked.
This cigarette brand grew so fast from a regional to a national brand, to become one of the most popular brands in China. This is a premium brand and it comes in high quality branding and packaging. Apart from that, even the tobacco itself is carefully selected and processed.
You will get packs such as Huangshan Golden Wang, Tiandu, Hong fang yin and Huangshan Wangyan Classic. These are all classic packs that you can smoke with confidence. You will see why this brand gets national recognition. While many other brands associate certain provinces, Huangshan is like a national brand.
15. Nanjing (南京)
Nanjing is without a doubt one of the top cigarette brands in China. However, it is also so costly such that it is rare to see people flaunting it around. However, good things belong to the living and so it is always good to try the premium brands such as this one.
There are different packs under this brand, but the costliest of them all is the yellow pack. This also makes it the rarest pack and so people who get it hoard it to bring it out at the most important, high-end occasions.
Nanjing cigarette is a brand of Jiangsu Zhongyan Co. Ltd. Nicotine content starts at 1mg and others have nicotine content as high as 10mg. This is a high-end cigarette brand and although it has been tainted with corruption allegations, its star has not dimmed one bit.
Your search for the best China cigarette brands stops right here. China is officially a smoking nation and every break time, you will see people light up in their millions. Thankfully, there are thousands of brands of cigarettes, some premium and some quite affordable. You can choose one from the 15 brands that we have seen here.