Pour 1/2 cup of boiling water over the tea bags. Let steep for 15 minutes until a strong brew forms and the liquid begins to cool. Pour tea into a large container big enough to fit all the chicken pieces. Add the salt and sugar and stir to dissolve. Add the buttermilk and peppercorns and stir to combine. Add the chicken, nestling into the liquid so all the pieces are submerged as best as possible. Cover the container and place in the fridge overnight or for at least 4 hours.
An hour or so before you’re ready to fry, remove the chicken from the brine and place on a wire rack to drain slightly. Discard brine and tea bags. You can remove the peppercorns and large tea leaves or fry them on the chicken for some extra kick.
In a large bowl, toss together the flour, salt, and pepper. Lightly coat each piece of chicken in flour.
Pour enough oil to fill 1 1/2 to 2-inches of a heavy bottomed dutch oven or large skillet. Heat to 375 degrees or until a tiny pinch of flour immediately sizzles when thrown into the oil. Place a few pieces of chicken in the pan, careful to not overcrowd, and fry for about 9 to 12 minutes per side, more for bigger pieces and less for smaller. Be sure to check meat with a thermometer, it should be no less than 165 degrees.
Note: If the chicken browns and crisps in the pan before it is cooked through, finish cooking in the oven. Set the oven to 400 degrees. Spread chicken on a wire rack set over a baking sheet and cook until done. You can also keep chicken warm this way, just set the oven to a lower temperature, around 200 degrees.