One of the secrets to getting crunchy pickles is to add leaves, such as oak or raspberry, that have tannins in them. You might be thinking, "But how do I know which leaves have tannins? And how do I get ahold of some?" Well don’t worry - tea leaves have tannins too and you can use them to make your pickles crunchy and flavorful. Earl Grey is one of my favorite teas to use because it adds a unique and delightful flavor to these pickles. I can hardly wait for you to try them. We might start a whole new movement of pickles made with different types of tea!
If using the starter culture, stir together the culture and water. Let the mixture sit while you prepare the ingredients—around 10 minutes.
Cut the blossom ends off the cucumbers.
Combine the peppercorns, salt, and garlic in a small bowl.
Tightly pack the cucumbers and peppercorn mixture into a 1-gallon jar. Add the starter culture or kefir whey and the tea bags and fill the jar with filtered water to cover the cucumbers but leave 1 to 2 inches of headspace for them to bubble and ferment.
Seal the container and let it sit on your kitchen counter, out of direct sunlight, for 3 days.
After 3 days, remove the tea bags.
Check the vegetables every day to make sure they are fully submerged in the water. If they have risen above the water, simply push them down so they are fully covered by the water. If any white spots formed because the veggies rose above the water, do not worry. Remember, this isn’t harmful. Just scoop out the vegetables that have the white spots on them and push the rest back under the water.
When the pickles are done fermenting, place them in the refrigerator.
Storage note: They are ready to eat after three days but will keep fermenting and age much like a fine wine. I like them at about 1 to 2 weeks but will last nine months in your refrigerator.