Field experience is something very important for us, specially when we claim that we source the best quality of spices in the world. Pepper is widely grown in most Keralan households and it has a harvest once in a year, mostly between January to April. During one of our trips to the high ranges of Kerala, we met a few pepper farmers and we utilised the opportunity make a video about the difference between Tellicherry Pepper and Malabar Pepper.
While Malabar Pepper is a GI tagged cash crop mostly grown in the South West coast of India, Tellicherry Pepper is a graded variety of bolder Pepper corns which is generally more than 4.25mm. While Malabar Pepper possess a greater concentration of Piperine content, ideally more than four percent. Tellicherry Pepper still possess the same level of Piperine content, but since the pepper corns are bolder in size, they are more starchy and naturally has the capacity to lock more aroma and flavour. The below video will talk more about it.
Many get confused about the word Tellicherry, because it is a coastal town in North of Kerala. Tellicherry is not a pepper hub, but it was once a port under the control of British during colonial times. There are different stories associating this pepper grade to this port name, but eventually it was the bolder pepper corns of Malabar pepper that was shipped from the port of Tellicherry, perhaps that was how this variety gained the prefix of the Tellicherry port.
For instance, Green Cardamom from Kerala once had a commodity trade name called "Alleppey Green Gold". Alleppey was the port town of the Travancore Kingdom, which ruled South of Kerala. Since the Cardamom growing belts were under the reign of the Travancore kingdom, it was more of a monopoly that fetched a lot of revenue for the state. All of the Green Cardamom produce were export from the then port of Alleppey and that was how the Cardamom from Kerala was identified as Alleppey Green Gold.
You can imagine the kind of role a port plays in identifying a commodity during the colonial maritime trade. When the clarity of information is missing, you start hearing vague stories which has nothing to do with the real story. Since Tellicherry Pepper batches are quite popular in many parts of the world for its finest quality, people even grade pepper from other parts of the world to generate a batch of bold peppercorns to sell it as Tellicherry Pepper. But though Tellicherry Pepper is not geographically tagged, it has to genuinely come from a batch of Malabar Pepper.