Pitcher filled with butterfly pea flower iced tea with lemon slices
Iced Butterfly Pea Flower Tea with lemon slices. The blue tea will turn purple within a few minutes of the lemon slices being in the iced tea!

The Butterfly Pea is an amazing plant native to southeast Asia. Butterfly Pea flowers produce an all-natural blue dye. People have used it as a coloring in food and drink recipes (including herbal tea) for centuries! However, this flower’s most impressive quality is how its color responds to acid. For example, adding lemon juice to Butterfly Pea flower tea causes a color shift from deep blue to vibrant magenta!

Despite these amazing properties, the Butterfly Pea was unknown outside southeast Asia until recently. However, now you’ll see it everywhere! It’s the darling of everyone from mixologists to food bloggers (like us!). We’re all eagerly experimenting with this unusual flower.

A HIDDEN GEM

Hands holding dried butterfly pea flowers

Butterfly pea tea is popular in Southeast Asia, and has been for a very long time! At home, people often enjoy it after dinner in herbal tea. You might also see it as a welcome drink at spas and hotels. The flower can also add color to meals. For example, cooks use Butterfly Pea Flowers to tint rice in meals like pulut tai tai and nasi kerabu.

Steeped butterfly pea flowers taste a bit like green tea. The flavor is subtle, so it’s common to mix in some dried lemongrass. In addition, the tea recipe often includes honey or sugar. Citrus juice is then used to balance the sweetness. This is where the magic (ahem, science) happens!

Tea pot filled with blue tea made with butterfly pea flower tea

PURPLE HAZE

Butterly Pea Tea Flower’s blue color comes from pigments called anthocyanins. Their color changes based on the amount of acid present. The color starts out blue, then shifts to purple after adding an acid (like lemon juice). If you keep this up the tea will eventually turn a vibrant shade of magenta!

Mixologists also achieve this effect with other acidic fruit juices, like pineapple or lime. Clear carbonated drinks, like seltzer water or Sprite, can also do the trick.

Two pitchers filled with butterfly pea flower iced tea. One with lemon slices turning purple
The iced Butterfly Pea Flower Tea on the left is just tea. The iced tea on the right is the same Butterfly Flower Tea that is turning purple after adding lemon slices.

THE TEA “RECIPE”

Now, there isn’t really a “recipe” for Butterfly Pea flower tea. You simply:

  • Grab two loose tablespoons of dried Butterfly Pea flowers.
  • Infuse into about 32 oz (1 L) of boiling water
  • Steep for 5 minutes
  • Enjoy hot or iced, and don’t forget to add a generous squeeze of lemon and watch the magic happen!

That’s it! Of course, you can customize this any way you like. For example:

  • Sweeten it with agave nectar or raw cane sugar
  • Swap the lemon for lime
  • Put 1-2 crushed lemongrass stalks to the infusion (infuse until the tea smells fragrant)
  • Add some ginger, mint or even passionfruit (more often used for the iced version)!

OK – now you just need get butterfly pea flowers and get brewing! You can snag some using this Amazon link for our go-to butterfly pea tea flowers!

Pitcher filled with butterfly pea flower iced tea with lemon slices
Butterfly Pea Flower Tea made using iced butterfly pea flower tea, butterfly pea flower tea ice cubes, and lemon slices (and pomegranate for fun!). After only a few minutes of contact between the tea and lemon, the tea will turn purple!

Did you try this recipe? Let us know what you think with a comment and rating! Every bit of feedback helps make the Plant Riot even better!

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