In the incredible story of the spice trade, peppercorns are the most important and historically significant spice of them all. Wars were fought and trade routes established over this tiny fruit from the piper nigrum plant. Peppercorns were once as valuable as gold, and in fact were used as currency at various points throughout history. When the Visigoths captured Rome in 410 A.D. they demanded 3000 pounds of peppercorns as ransom! Obviously peppercorns are not nearly as valuable today as they once were, but they are just as important. Try to imagine cooking and eating without pepper.
We sell several different types of peppercorns. Black, green, and white peppercorns are all from the piper nigrum plant. The different colours and flavours of these three peppercorns are caused by the maturity of the peppercorns when they are picked and the way they are processed.
As well as offering different colours of peppercorns, we offer several different types of whole black peppercorns. Indian Malabar black peppercorns are the standard black peppercorns you can find on almost every table in the country. Tellicherry black peppercorns, also from India, are our highest grade of peppercorn. They are large and fragrant, with a delicate spiciness and distinctive lemony brightness. Indonesian Lampong black peppercorns are smaller and have a unique fruity flavour with intense heat.
Pink peppercorns are not from the same pepper vine that the others are. They are the fruit of the Brazilian pepper tree, so are not actually peppercorns at all. However, they are used in a similar way and are common in pepper blends, so we have included them here. Pink peppercorns are not to be confused with true red peppercorns, which are the fully ripe fruit of the piper nigrum plant. These peppercorns are rare and fragile, and are not usually seen outside of pepper growing regions.
Szechuan peppercorns are used in Asian cooking and are also not true peppercorns. They are from a Chinese variety of the prickly Ash tree, and have a lemony and slightly numbing spicy flavour.
For ground pepper, see Black Pepper, Ground.