Tellicherry Pepper and Malabar Pepper are two trade names for a variety of pepper that comes from the southern Indian states of Kerala and Karnataka. The Malabar region of Southern India has been prominent in the spice trade since ancient times. Black pepper as a trade commodity is harvested, sun-dried, and graded into different categories, such as garbled and ungarbled. The garbled pepper is a graded pepper where only pure black peppercorns are visible, while ungarbled pepper is a whole bunch of sundried peppercorns of various sizes and colors. Even though there are 12 native varieties of pepper in Southern India, there are way too many varieties available today.
Tellicherry Pepper and Malabar Pepper are both spicy and are considered the king of spices, with applications in almost all cuisines across the world. Almost 70 percent of peppercorns produced in India are exported to various countries. The pepper is graded into different size categories like 3.5, 3.8, and 4.8 mm, and exporters export based on the size category.
Tellicherry Pepper and Malabar Pepper are named after their size, and both have geographical indications. They originate from a geographical region that now forms part of the present-day state of Kerala in India. Tellicherry Pepper is segregated into three sizes: Tellicherry Garbled Special Extra Bold (TGSEB), Tellicherry Garbled Extra Bold (TGEB), and Tellicherry Garbled (TG). Malabar Pepper is segregated into two sizes: Malabar Garbled I (MG1) and Malabar Garbled II (MG2).
Pepper research has given way to more hybrid varieties of pepper that produce larger sizes of peppercorns. Any peppercorn that comes above a size of 4.8 mm of size can be categorized as Tellicherry Garbled Special Extra Bold (TGSEB). Tellicherry Garbled Extra Bold can be any size from 3.8 to 4.2-4.5 mm, while Tellicherry Garbled can range from 3.5 to 3.7 mm in size. Malabar Garbled 1 & 2 is below 3.5 mm in size, and Malabar Garbled 2 can go even far below.
The demand for pepper is considered based on different dimensions of the requirement. Pepper cannot be always considered that it is for the dinner table, as there have been multiple industrial uses for Pepper. Malabar Garbled is the most exported quality of peppercorn due to its high oleoresin and piperine concentration. The Malabar Pepper is considered as one of the spiciest peppercorns in the world.
In essence, both Tellicherry Pepper and Malabar Pepper are named and segregated purely based on the size of the peppercorn and not on the basis of its distinct quality. However, buyers of pepper, whether they are organic or not, consider factors such as the concentration of components like piperine and oleoresin when purchasing. A lot more details need to be considered when buying pepper, but that is a topic for another blog post.