White pepper is from the same plant that produces black peppercorns, but with the darker outer shell removed. White pepper has a lingering "bite" that is hotter than black pepper, is less subtle and has a mildly fermented overall flavor.
White pepper is one of the most commonly used spices worldwide, but is still relatively unknown here. In the U.S., we consume about twelve times as much black pepper as white; in Europe those ratios are reversed. Along with salt, pepper is one of the oldest -- and most used -- spices in the world.
Whereas black [Tellicherry] peppercorns are spicier, white pepper is less intense but lends great flavor to light-colored sauces, cream soups, fish dishes, and potato recipes where the color and sharper taste of ground black pepper would be obtrusive.
White pepper is a wonderful addition to dishes like Eggs Benedict, dusted over a simple filet of sole, or mixed with lemon, olive oil and fine sea salt as a dressing for spring field greens.