We all know tea comes in a variety of different colors, from green to black to yellow, but how often have you been served a cup of cobalt blue tea? I’m guessing not that often. Even so, blue tea is a thing, it’s a caffeine-free herbal tea made with the flowers from the Butterfly Pea Flower, a plant that has been commonly used in South East Asia as a herbal tea and a food additive for centuries. Even more so, it has the unique ability to change colors.
The Butterfly Pea flower, also known as “Asian pigeonwings” or “Aprajita”, is plucked from the Clitoria Ternatea plant (yes, it is named after that!) which grows abundantly in Thailand and Vietnam in particular, but also other regions like India, China and South America. The plant grows on riverbanks, irrigation channels and in woodland areas. The blue flower petals give off their color when steeped into either hot or cold water, and have a mild floral and earthy taste, somewhat like a green tea, when infused as a tea.
Probably the most fascinating characteristic of Butterfly Pea Flower tea is that it has the ability to change color. Whenever the pH balance of the beverage in question changes, the color will change with it. For instance, a deep blue brew (basic pH value) will turn purple and ultimately pink with the addition of lemon juice (highly acidic pH value). Conversely, adding hibiscus to the brew will turn it bright red. Because of this mysterious property, Butterfly Pea Flower tea has been a frequently used additive in the mixing of (alcoholic) cocktails, particularly to add a bit of excitement or novelty. One can even add it to the ice cubes used in drinks, as to slowly make the drink change colors.
When it comes to its proposed healing properties, there are several things that stand out. Firstly, the Butterfly Pea Flower contains a large amount of anthocyanins (a type of antioxidant) as well as many anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting elements. Furthermore, the Butterfly Pea Flower also contains a number of beneficial phytonutrients that have been connected to providing relief for conditions like diabetes, glaucoma, skin and hair health and more. As always, it is important to note that the health benefits of most, if not all, teas are still in need of additional research before any definitive connections can be made.