This best-kept secret and trendy tea with endless health perks has been declared as this year’s hit by Good Housekeeping, Kitchen Theory, and Food & Wine Magazines. From tasty drinks to smoothies, blue rice, and cake pops, Butterfly Pea Flower adds a blue or purple splash to any occasion. The latest food trend is using natural ingredients to showcase bright and bold colors in food, and butterfly pea flower is leading the way.
The blue tea itself tastes slightly similar to a watered-down green tea but add 2 tablespoons honey, a dash of salt, a splash of lemon or lime, and the blue tea first turns purple than pink and is very tasty. The tea or blue ice cubes can be added to any drink such as lemonade or a favorite cocktail and used as a natural color additive for dishes such as blue rice, cakes, muffins, ice cream, and smoothies. When ground into a powder, it is known as “Blue Macha”.
This tea is great for unwinding in the afternoon or evening because it acts as a relaxing anxiolytic as well.
What is butterfly pea flower tea?
Blue tea has been around for centuries. It’s brewed from the bright blue flowers of the Southeastern Asia-native Clitoria ternatea plant, also known as blue butterfly pea plant or Asian pigeonwings. The vibrant petals are a common ingredient and natural food dye in countries like Thailand, Myanmar, and Vietnam, and even Australia lending its unique purplish hue to sweet and savory rice dishes like pulut inti and nasi kerabu.
The experience of drinking blue tea for the first time is nothing short of mesmerizing. Butterfly pea flower tea changes pH levels when you add certain ingredients to it, changing its original blue to bright purple, and pink tones. Acidic add-ins, like a few drops of lemon or lime juice, are ideal for turning the sapphire tea into a vibrant magenta.
Place a few of the dried flowers into hot water. Drink it hot or pour the infusion into a glass of ice and take an exploratory sip without adding anything else. Then squeeze in a few drops of lemon and sweetener or sweetener without lemon whichever you prefer for a summery refreshing drink on a hot afternoon and it is a blast to look at.
Science-backed health benefits of blue tea
While dried butterfly pea flowers are common in Southeast Asia, the petals have become a coveted and exotic ingredient in the US. Color-changing drinks made with blue pea tea ice cubes and gin, rum, or tequila are mixed with lemon juice and other ingredients to create multicolor cocktails that make you feel like you landed in an Alice in Wonderland movie.
But color-changing capabilities aside — though that’s reason enough to brew yourself a cup right now and watch the magic happen, — the Clitoria ternatea plant and its flowers are rich in antioxidants and boast an impressive nutritional profile. And although research on blue pea is still in its infancy, recent studies show that butterfly pea flower tea may have various health benefits, including:
- Antimicrobial properties
- Helps control blood sugar levels
- Anti-diabetic properties – a cup of blue butterfly tea taken in between meals will inhibit the intake of glucose from the diet and lower blood sugar. Antioxidants in the tea may also help the body lower risk of infections.
- Potentially promotes weight loss
- Supports hair growth – contains anthocyanin which increases blood flow in the scalp, strengthening hair follicles.
- Enhances skin health – blue pea flower has anti-glycation properties, which is excellent for the skin and helps prevent skin aging. Furthermore, it contains some flavonoids which increase collagen production, accelerating skin elasticity.
- Helps reduce inflammation
- May protect heart health and increase blood flow
- Fights free radicals – blue pea flower is a rich source of antioxidants. Antioxidants are known to minimize damage to the cells of the body also lowering the risk of cancer.
- May help reduce stress and anxiety, uplifting mood
- Is considered a nootropic, protecting the brain and boosting its activity and function
So far, there aren’t any reported side effects of drinking butterfly pea flower tea. However, people with sensitive stomachs may experience nausea or diarrhea from drinking large quantities of blue tea. Consult your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
How to brew butterfly pea tea
Whether you want to brew a delicious cup of blue tea or are looking to make your own psychedelic cocktails, the first step is to steep in hot water the dried flower petals to make blue tea. Here’s how:
- 1 cup of water
- 1 ½ teaspoon dry butterfly pea flowers
Bring water to a boil and pour into a teapot. Add butterfly pea flowers, cover, and let sit for 5 minutes. Add honey and lemon to taste (optional). Drink immediately or let cool completely and pour into an ice tray to make blue tea ice cubes if using for drinks or cocktails. You should only steep the butterfly pea flower tea for 3-4 minutes. Any less and you’ll get some color, but not much flavor, and any more will leave you with an almost black tasting tea as the flowers have been “cooked.”
If you plan to make beverages for a crowd, keep all components in separate pitchers until you are ready to serve. Have guests watch or pour their own drink so they can witness the hypnotic transformation firsthand.
A final word
When you talk to great chefs and bartenders, you might hear a common theme about how we not only eat (or drink in our case) with our taste buds, but we also eat and drink with our eyes! Butterfly pea flower tea, or blue tea, allows you to make delicious and awe-inspiring colored beverages and dishes without dangerous ingredients like synthetic food dyes. And while its potential health benefits warrant more investigation, blue pea flowers are chocked-full of so many healthful compounds, that we think it’s definitely worth a sip.
You can buy dry butterfly pea flowers to make blue tea in most tea stores, health food stores, online, and on Amazon.
- 1 cup dry Jasmine rice, rinsed
- 1 1/2 cups water, 1 or 2 tablespoons less would be ok as well
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 Butterfly-pea flowers
- 1/2 stalk lemongrass, beaten, knotted, or 1/2 teaspoon of lemongrass powder (optional).Put rinsed rice in your rice cooker along with the lemongrass (optional) and flowers.
Add the water, press cook on the rice cooker, and let it cook until it switches to warm. For added flavor, you can use powdered lemongrass. Once the rice cooker switches to warm, just let it sit for about 10-20 minutes covered on the warm setting. Mix with a spoon, you can just mix the flowers in, or you can remove them. Spoon some rice into a small bowl, place a plate on the top and tip the plate, and bowl over, perfect serving portion. Great with fish.
BUTTERFLY PEA LEMONADE
This magical color-changing lemonade gets it’s natural color from the butterfly pea flower, changing from rich blue to vibrant magenta right before your very eyes!
5 cups filtered water, divided
1 cup granulated sugar, or to taste
1/2 cup (1/4 ounce) dried butterfly pea flowers
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 8-10 lemons)
In a saucepan, combine 3 cups filtered water with sugar. Stir in butterfly pea flowers. Bring to a simmer. Remove from heat, cover and let steep for 10 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh sieve, discarding solids. Set aside to cool.
In a jar or glass measuring cup, combine lemon juice and remaining 2 cups of water.
To serve, fill glasses with ice. Pour cooled butterfly pea syrup into glass, filling about half way.
Pour lemon mixture over top, and watch the magic happen! Where the lemon meets the syrup, the color will change from blue to pink. Stir to combine the two mixtures until the color is pink throughout and enjoy!
GALAXY MAGIC MULE
Magic Blue Ice
8 flowers of Butterfly Pea Flower Tea
2 cups hot water
For the Galaxy Magic Mule
2 oz vodka
.50 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
4-6 oz ginger beer
Crushed “Magic Blue Ice”
For the Galaxy Magic Mule
Partially fill the mug with crushed clear ice then top with crushed Magic Blue Ice.
Add lime juice, vodka, and ginger bear. Top with additional Magic Blue Ice.
For the Magic Blue Ice
Add hot water to the Butterfly Pea Flowers. Allow to steep for 3-4 minutes. Strain out flowers. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze. Crush ice and use in cocktail.
BUTTERFLY PEA LATTE
2 cups ice
2 cups water
1/3 cup half & half
2 butterfly pea flower tea bags
1 tablespoon sweetened condensed milk (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
If using an electric kettle with temperature setting, set it to 180°F. Use filtered water if possible.
Put tea bags or loose dried flowers (depending on the form you are using) into the teapot and add hot water and steep for 5 minutes.
Combine half & half, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla extract.
Stir to mix and set aside.
Pour cooled butterfly pea flower tea into 2 cups filled with ice.
Slowly pour in vanilla sweet cream into each cup.
The sweet cream will swirl around then settle to the bottom, leaving a pretty gradient.
MORE FAVORITE RECIPES
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