Tien Tsin Chiles
Tien Tsin Peppers (pronounced "tea-in sin"), Capsicum annuum, are also called Chinese red pepper, Chinese hot pepper, Tianjin pepper or chao tian jiao (which translates to "facing heaven" chilies as they grow pointing upwards).
These chiles are very light and there are approximately 40 chiles per ounce.
What are Tien Tsin Peppers
These chiles are most popular when used in Hunan or Sichuan (or Szechwan) style cooking. In this country we're most familiar with these as the bright red peppers in Kung Pao Chicken. Closely resembling Cayenne or Japones chiles, Tien Tsin chiles are bright red in color, slender, 1" to 2" in length and ¼" to ½" wide.
The name Tien Tsin is derived from Tientsin which is in reference to the province in China where they are native. In the United States this was at one time considered an exotic chile but is now easily found in Asian markets and online.
History of Chinese Chiles
Chile peppers were introduced into China at the end of the 1500's and over the years have spread throughout the country. The earliest written documentation of chiles in China dates back to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and occurred in the Zunshengbajian, known as the Eight Discourses on the Art of Living, by the Chinese writer, dramatist and encyclopedist Gao Lian, who described the plants in this manner -- "The clustered fanjiao (chile peppers) with white flowers and round fruits are red and incredibly beautiful".
Today there are more than 2,000 chile pepper accessions stored in the National Crop Germplasm Bank in Beijing of which most are landraces. Landrace chiles are heirloom chiles grown from seeds that are tied to specific geographic regions often down to the individual family farm level. Seeds are carefully gathered each year from the best chile plants depending on specific traits that include flavor, size, shape, color and heat level. Farmers tend to be very protective of the seeds from their best landrace chiles which will be planted in subsequent years. Chiles grown in China have a rich history and perhaps the most famous quote about chile peppers in the country is credited to Chairman Mao (1893-1976), who was a serious chile head in his own right, he is purported to have said "No chiles, no revolution".
China is both the world's largest producer and consumer of chiles and are responsible for the cultivation of between 50 million and 60 million tons of peppers each year which accounts for a little more than 45% of the total world production.
How do You Grow Tien Tsin Peppers
These chile plants are grown from seeds and are planted in the early spring about 12" apart and about ¼” deep. It takes about two weeks for them to germinate and they do best once the temperature stays above 60° to 65° at night. Tien Tsin chiles take approximately 80-100 days to fully mature.
Tien Tsin chile plants have relatively low yields and these green chiles mature to their signature bright red color at which point they're picked and dried in the sun. Tien Tsin Chiles are indigenous to China but are now grown in the US as well.
Where are Tien Tsin From?
Ours are grown in China as we believe that the best quality Tien Tsin peppers (and most spices) are those grown in their native land.
What do Tien Tsin Peppers Taste Like
This is not a complex chile in terms of flavor but it does have a bit of a mildly pungent taste with a spicy aroma. This chile pepper is used for adding heat and not flavor to a dish.
How Hot are Tien Tsin Chiles
We are considered a medium-heat chile, measuring between 10,0000-60,000 on the Scoville heat unit scale.
Tips from Our Kitchen
If you have a recipe calling for Chinese Red Peppers these are the chiles they're calling for. As with all chiles the veins and seeds pack the heat and because of the high amount of seeds with this chile they can quickly overpower a dish. Some recipes will call for the removal of the seeds before adding to the dish.
Because of the lack of complexity in flavor in Tien Tsin peppers (similar to Cayenne Chile Powder in this regard), these chilies are mainly used as a heat source. They're used as a spice for Asian cuisine, particularly Hunan and Sichuan dishes and are often used whole to spice soups and stir fries. They're often added to a dish early in the cooking process, then removed like you would bay leaves prior to serving.
We like to leave these in our Kung Pao Chicken dishes for some added heat and for an enhanced visual impression. Several of our other favorite recipes making use of Tien Tsin Chiles are General Tso's Style Chicken and our Cucumber Relish. In New Orleans, up and coming chefs have been using Tien Tsin chiles in various classic Creole and Cajun style dishes for a different kind of heat flavor than the more traditional cayenne. Because of their slim, short shape, Tien Tsin peppers also make exceptional chiles for creating chili oils or hot pepper vodkas. Due to their potent staining proficiency they produce a rich red colored oil.
Tien Tsin Chile Substitution
|Ingredients||Tien Tsin Chiles|
|Also Called||Chinese Red Peppers, Tianjin pepper or chao tian jiao|
|Recommended Uses||These chiles are most popular when used in Hunan or Szechwan style cooking|
|Flavor Profile||Not a complex chile in terms of flavor but it does have a bit of a musty and pungent taste with a spicy aroma|
|Scoville Heat Units||10,000 - 60,000 SHU|
|Botanical Name||Capsicum annuum|
|How To Store||Airtight container in a cool, dark place|
|Shelf Life||1-2 years|
|Country of Origin||China< /td>|
|Dietary Preferences||Gluten Free, Non-GMO|
Hungry for More Information
Serving Size1 chile, 0.5g
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value*