When it comes to the wonderful world of spices, black pepper is king. Nine out of 10 chefs consider pepper to be an important or very important ingredient and 97% use it in some, if not all, of their top 10 bestselling dishes. Because pepper is used so often, you would expect chefs to be clued up on this essential seasoning. But, despite their frequent use of the ingredient, a staggering 94% of chefs admit that they don’t have a very good knowledge of the different types of black pepper. Maria is here to fix that.
Black, white, or green – all varieties of pepper come from Piper Nigrum plants. Sourced from only a handful of countries, including India, Indonesia and Brazil, these plants grow in tropical climates with high rainfalls and temperatures between 20-35°C. Much like a fine wine, pepper flavours are affected by the local climate and soil so the region in which they are grown is key. The world’s best black pepper, Tellicherry, is harvested in the mountainous slopes of Kerala in Southern India where the red, iron-rich soil helps to cultivate its broad flavour profile.
What makes Tellicherry stand out from the crowd is the size of its balls. Only peppercorns from this region that are bigger than 4.25mm can be labelled as Tellicherry – anything smaller is Malabar. When it comes to pepper, size matters. The bigger the peppercorn, the bigger the range of flavours. There are in fact 9-10 different flavour notes in Tellicherry, compared to 3-4 in Malabar. These flavours evolve from citrus notes to freshly cut grass, green oak leaves, and juniper berries, pine bark and pine resin, tea tree oil, rustic soapy notes, fruity sweetness and a satisfying earthiness.
Because of the size of Tellicherry peppercorns, they regularly contain 3% more essential oils than other peppers, giving them an array of aromatic flavours, combined with a subtle heat. The heat comes from the very heart of the peppercorn, the piperine, a pungent alkaloid that gives pepper its spiciness. Striking the right balance between this punchy heat and the flavour profile of the essential oils is tricky, but by hand sorting just the top 20% of the largest, most uniform coloured berries we keep the flavours consistent. We also specifically sell Tellicherry peppercorns whole so that they’re ready to release their flavour at the critical moment - once you get your grind on.
Now you’ve got a taste for pepper, find out more at