So, you consider yourself an established tea aficionado. You’ve dabbled with high grade Gyokuro. You’ve concocted the perfect ratio of spices for your chai. But there’s a tea you probably haven’t come across that’s taking the trend world by storm: Butterfly Pea Tea. This blue flower from Southeast Asia produces a brilliant blue liquid, that- when mixed with the acidity of, say, lemon- changes the hue to a pink/purple tone. Not surprisingly, the plant has flourished in the world of mixology, with bartenders adding it to drinks to play with the shades. Butterfly Pea tea, the mood ring of teas!
So…What is it?
Native to Thailand and Malaysia, Butterfly Pea Tea, also known as ‘’Asian Pigeonwing”, is made from the Clitoria ternatea plant. The flowers have high content of anthocyanin, a beneficial antioxidant. The flowers have a nootropic effect and trigger vivid dreams, enhanced memory and brain function. In Thailand, the flowers have been used for centuries for hair and scalp health in ancient types of shampoo. Nowadays, the flowers are very popular in tea and herbal blends because they easily infuse their vivid blue pigment into hot or cold water. The flowers contains no caffeine, making it enjoyable at any time of the day. In addition to being a delicious tea, it is also used as a food and clothing dye.
Butterfly Pea Tea Health Benefits
As if you needed any more reason to drink it, Butterfly Pea Tea has great health benefits. It is one of the only tisanes to have extraordinary levels of antioxidants, almost rivaling that of Green Teas. It’s these antioxidants that help boost the brains’ power to function, by increasing cognitive skills and memory. A 2012 study showed the anti-inflammatory ‘flower power’, helping it reduce the risk of cancers while increasing brain health and overall vitality. (1)
Strong Anti-Aging Properties
White teas are popular for their anti-aging properties, but Butterfly Pea Tea also brings a lot to the table. It helps keep your skin looking younger, by fighting off a protein-damaging effect called glycation. All those powerful antioxidants play a dynamic role in strengthening hair and skin cells. It also contains the flavonoid Quercetin, which is great for healthy hair and skin cells, as well as keeping hydration levels up. The vitamins and minerals keep hair and skin healthy and younger looking, making you not-so-embarrassed about sharing your age at the next social event.
Good news for diabetics: this drink inhibits glucose levels to keep your blood sugars lower. And since most diabetics are prone to infections, the antioxidant power helps greatly reduce the risk. An animal study in 2015 found the serum glucose levels of rats diminished after ingesting the tea, to a level that was comparable to the diabetic medicine glibenclamide. (2)
Promotes Eye Health
Butterfly Pea Tea is popular in Indonesia, and even used as an eye remedy in Bali. It is called “Bunga Telang” which translates to “clear vision”. It is used as a holistic treatment for many eye ailments, including conjunctivitis.
You’ve probably heard by now that antioxidants are great for fighting off UTIs, which is why cranberries, an antioxidant superfruit, help clear your urinary tract. Butterfly Pea Tea can help fight urinary problems and symptoms. Since the tea is antimicrobial, even using it to wash your genital area can help kill off pathogens.
Destroys Free Radicals
Butterfly Pea Tea has an abundance of cyclotides, which are peptides that fight off free radicals. Free radicals are the cells that can go on to turn into tumors and cancer cells.
A Natural Fever Reducer
In doses ranging from 200-400 milligrams, butterfly pea tea extract was shown to reduce body temperature by significant levels, even five hours after the initial ingestion. This antipyretic potential was compared to that of paracetamol, a fever reducer and pain reliever. (3)
Reduce Factors of Heart Disease
Hyperlipidemia is an abnormally high concentration of lipids and/or fats in the blood stream. This often is a factor of blood clotting, arterial clots, and heart attacks and disease. A 2010 study in Pharmaceutical Biology found that taking butterfly pea tea extract in tandem with Vigna Mungo (mung beans), brought about a “significant reduction of serum total cholesterol, triglycerides, very low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels.” (4)
“Color is a power which directly influences the soul.” – Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky
How Do I Make It?
1.) Pour Hot water (slightly below boiling point) into your glass or mug. Add one heaping teaspoon of tea leaves into the water. Allow them to soak before stirring them into the water. You’ll begin to see the blue seeping and dissipate into the water. Once they’ve released the majority of their color, stir them slightly to evenly cook the flowers.
2.) At this point, you’re ready to add a small teaspoon of lemon or lime juice to start the show.
3.) Allow the juice to incorporate naturally for a few moments before stirring it in. Now is your time to see the colors dancing together!
4.) Enjoy your perfect cup hot or over crushed ice!
Sure it’s pretty, but is it good?
If you like most teas, we’re sure you won’t be disappointed by this one. Butterfly pea teas have been described a being most similar to an unsweetened green tea, with an earthy and mossy flavor. There are subtle notes of grass or hay, reminiscent of a high grade sencha.
If you can’t get enough of it in tea form, there are many Thai and Malay recipes that incorporate it into food dishes. One example even includes putting the flowers in batter and frying them to golden perfection. (What can’t you fry?!) It will add a bluish tint to your meal and give it a slightly earthy taste.
While Butterfly Pea Tea has been used countless times in places like Thailand and Vietnam, it has only recently become popularized in America. There are sure to be many bubbly cocktails and twists of this drink soon, as more and more people become aware of it’s chameleon-like abilities and health benefits. It is sure to be seen popping up on health and tea blogs alike. It’s definitely worth trying out. Between it’s earthy and robust flavor, seemingly countless health benefits, and the mesmerizing colors, Butterfly Pea Tea is sure to find a permanent home in your tea collection after just one cup.