Indigenous to China, Szechuan Peppercorns are not really pepper, but a berry from a small shrub. Szechuan is very fragrant and provide a sharp flavor that begins mildly warm with earthy, lemony undertones and then quickly evolves to an almost numbing sensation. Before the introduction of the chile pepper in the 15th century, Asian cultures used Szechuan Pepper and ginger to provide heat to many dishes. Szechuan is complex and surprising flavor is often used to intensify the flavor of cheese, chicken, seafood and vegetables. Home chefs who love to add an exotic, captivating twist to a dish will use it as a substitute for black pepper.