It is said that in medieval times the streets where spices were sold could be found thanks to the smell of pepper, the only spice that was so strong that it could cover the surrounding stench. We bet the Lord of Misrule approved of this.
Piper nigrum is a vine native to southern India. It grows hanging clusters of little, berry-like fruits of green colour. Once ripe, these fruits are left to dry which turns them black and enhances their pungent pepper smell.
It’s a euphemism to say that the spice trade has changed the course of history, and black pepper is probably the best example. Despite the distances, it was already famous in Europe during antiquity and medieval times, and was the most sought-after spice to flavour the bland dishes of the wealthy. It was so rare and expensive that it could be used as currency. Not to mention that Christopher Colombus discovered the American continent while seeking a shorter route to India ... where the black pepper was.
This infusion is made by steeping black peppercorns in hot water to get their pungent, warm scent and stimulating properties.