Butterfly pea flower, the tea that changes color

Do you know butterfly pea flower tea? It is a beautiful bright blue infusion that also changes color depending on how you prepare it. As you read it. Can you imagine it?

Sometimes, it can be found under the name of blue tea, although we do not particularly like this name as it creates confusion with oolong tea, which is also often called that. We have also found it under the name of butterfly tea. 

What is butterfly pea flower tea ?

The Butterfly pea flower tea, is a tisane that is prepared from the petals of the Clitoria ternatea flower, in Spanish called blue shell. This plant belongs to the Fabaceae family and is very common in Southeast Asia.

It is actually a vine with oval leaves that when blooming displays calyx-shaped flowers of a deep blue color. Although there is also a variety with white flowers, the blue flowers are used to prepare the infusion that we will talk about today, as well as to color the rice in the traditional Thai dessert pulut inti.

Each flower generally develops alone, although there are cases of double flowers, reaching a maximum size of 3 cm and around 10 stamens.

Now, is blue tea a new invention? No, as always when we talk about infusions born in an Asian country, its history goes back hundreds of years. However, it has recently arrived in the West, arousing interest among tea lovers due to its particular color changes.

Beyond its characteristic flavor and its health properties used for years by Ayurvedic medicine, blue tea stands out for the color changes that the different substances that are added generate, by modifying the pH level of the infusion.

Why does butterfly tea change color?

New technologies have made it possible for us to discover butterfly pea flower tea on this side of the world. Through travel and cooking blogs, Instagram and other social networks, it has been possible to see all kinds of videos where blue tea takes on a purple or red hue depending on the substance added to it.

In Vietnam and Thailand, for example, blue tea is often drunk after meals mixed with lemon and honey. This infusion is called nam dok anchon, and can be drunk both hot and cold. The curious? By incorporating lemon juice, the pH of the infusion is modified, going from the typical deep blue to purple. Depending on the amount of lemon added, a softer or deeper purple will be obtained (more lemon will intensify the purple color).

It is worth noting that the cold infusion is accompanied, in addition to honey and lemon, with mint, passion fruit and ginger.

Another combination that you may like is to include hibiscus flowers. You will see how immediately, when infused, the drink takes on a striking and bright red color.

What does this blue tea taste like?

By infusing the flowers of Clitoria ternatea in hot water, we obtain a tea with a bluish hue with a woody, mossy and earthy taste, which is closer to some varieties of green or oolong tea than to black tea. However, by incorporating any other substance you will be modifying not only its color but also its flavor. For this reason, it is extremely difficult to say what this infusion tastes like.

Health properties of butterfly pea flower tea

Clitoria ternatea is used as a medicinal plant in several countries in Southeast Asia. There is still, to this day, little scientific literature on it. Several studies are analyzing the benefits that, according to local traditional medicine, it would have for:

  • Prevent premature aging due to its contribution of antioxidants.
  • Lower blood sugar level in diabetics.
  • Reduce the symptoms of different inflammations.
  • Relax and fall asleep.
  • Relieve symptoms of cold, flu and cough.

It should be noted that, being an infusion of flowers, it does not contain caffeine, which is why it would be suitable for consumption by pregnant women, lactating women and children.

How to get it, prepare it and make it change color

The first step to prepare this infusion is to obtain the dried flower of Clitoria ternatea. Unfortunately, this is not found, today, in most herbalists, so it is not easy to get on the street. Luckily, you can easily get it online, either in the form of petals or dried flowers. We recommend this variety.

It is also possible to buy it in the form of infusion sachets. Remember in that case to opt for the triangular ones, which allow the grass to expand better.


  • 1/2 liter of water
  • 2 gr of Clitoria ternatea flowers
  • A lemon, orange or any citrus
  • 1 teaspoon of honey per cup

How do you prepare

  1. Bring the water to a boil and infuse the flowers into it. You will see how the water immediately turns bright blue.
  2. Remove the flowers after about 5 minutes of infusion.
  3. Serve the infusion in glasses so that you and your guests can observe the color change well.
  4. Cut some slices of lemon or some citrus and serve them next to the infusion.
  5. Before drinking, add a few drops of lemon juice and watch how the infusion immediately changes. This works whether it’s hot or cold, so you can also serve it as an iced drink.
  6. You can incorporate honey or the sweetener of your choice, it will not affect the color. 

Butterfly pea flower tea is used in many combinations for its showiness. It can be drunk with milk or condensed milk, incorporating other herbs or even in the form of a mixed cocktail, for example, with a good vodka or gin.

Leave a Comment