Have you seen nice blue or purple color in cafes or Thai restaurant? While you may have wondered if the drink has been colored artificially, the blue or purple colour might be natural! In Thailand, people have been using butterfly pea as a natural food and beverage coloring. With more innovative drinks coming out, we started to get questions like “What does butterfly pea tea taste like?” Let’s find out the answer in this article.
What are “butterfly peas”?
First of all, what are butterfly peas and which part of the plants that people use to make coloring? Butterfly pea is a plant commonly found in South and Southeast Asia. The plant’s scientific name is Clitoria ternatea and it belongs to a flowering plant family. Butterfly pea flowers are typically dried and used for coloring, however you can also find butterfly pea extract directly.
What does butterfly pea tea taste like?
Butterfly pea itself has very little to no taste. So to answer the question “What does butterfly pea taste like?”, the answer is, little to no taste, that is for pure butterfly tea without any additives. There is no standard recipe for what people often call butterfly pea tea, in fact, there are so many different beverages that people commonly call “butterfly pea tea”.
Pure butterfly pea tea
Pure butterfly tea is made of dried butterfly peaflower and hot water. It is a flower tea without any caffeine! However, you will need to take note that unlike rose tea made of rose petals or buds, butterfly tea does not contain any strong fragrance. Hence, the tea itself will not have strong taste or smell. Some butterfly tea bag may have a bit of added fragrance or some may choose to add honey into the mix in order to add smell or taste. Nonetheless, brands that are promoting butterfly pea tea for health benefits usually will only have 100% butterfly pea in their tea bags.
Butterfly pea lemonade
Butterfly pea lemonade is where it gets more interesting (and refreshing!). It is very common to add lemon or lime into butterfly pea tea, but whether the beverage is classified as tea or lemonade, it depends on the amount of lemon.
You can brew the butterfly pea and then mix it with lemon (or lime juice in Southeast Asia) and a bit of sugar for a refreshing sour and sweet taste. Some recipe also introduces soda water for some fizz. You can also add herbs like lemon skin or rosemary for more taste and fragrance! So what does butterfly pea tea taste like here? The answer here is: it can taste like lemonade!
Butterfly pea milk tea
We have covered sour and refreshing taste of butterfly pea lemonade, but another popular butterfly pea tea beverages is butterfly pea milk tea! Butterfly pea milk tea, like its cousin Thai milk tea – is a milky beverage. But here we use butterfly pea tea as a base instead of the red Thai tea (hence the drink base color is blue!)
Common ingredients include hot water, dried butterfly pea flower, fresh milk, some syrup and ice. In Thailand, people also add evaporated milk for extra milkiness! So what does Thai butterfly pea tea taste like here? Milk tea!
Health benefit of butterfly pea
The popularity of butterfly pea is not only because it adds interesting blue color to food/drinks, but also its health benefits.
Butterfly pea’s blue color is due to anthocyanins, which are antioxidant compounds. Specifically the name of the antioxidant responsible for the bright blue color is ternatins. Studies show that ternatins can alleviate inflammation and prevent cancer cell growth. There are other antioxidant compounds in butterfly pea that have different functions like anti-cancer, antimicrobial, antiviral, and boosting immunity.
Many people also consume butterfly pea tea for weight loss, to stabilize blood sugar and also they put topically on the skin for hydration.
Is butterfly pea tea nice to drink?
Yes, it is nice to drink and there are variations of butterfly pea tea, each with a unique taste. If you like it more herbal and healthy, you can have it just as is, brewed like the way you brew tea. But if you like it more refreshing with some citrusy smell or taste, you can make a butterfly pea lemonade. And, if you like milky taste and texture, you can create a butterfly pea milk tea. Pick your favorite.
Other than its unique color, butterfly pea tea is also packed with antioxidants that are healthy for the body. This makes butterfly pea tea drinks not only attractive in color and tasty but also healthy.
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