Butterfly Pea Flower Tea or simply Butterfly Tea, is a simple drink that is common across Thailand where we call it Nahm Dok Anchan.
Southeast Asia is renowned for the use of natural medicines, some of the dubious effect and others now used worldwide. Ginseng and ginger, for instance, have been used for centuries across Asia to improve health and wellbeing that are now commonly used worldwide.
- What is the Formal Name of the Butterfly Pea?
- What is Butterfly Pea Tea?
- How to Make Butterfly Tea?
- How Does Butterfly Pea Tea Change Color?
- What are the benefits of Butterfly Pea Tea?
- How Many Cups of Butterfly Pea Tea Can You Drink A Day?
- Butterfly Pea Tea Recipe
- What is the Butterfly Pea Plant Used For?
- Are There Any Side Effects to Butterfly Pea Tea?
- Frequently Asked Questions About Butterfly Tea or Blue Flower tea
What is the Formal Name of the Butterfly Pea?
The Butterfly Pea plant comes under many names. The formal name of the plant is Clitoria Ternatea. It is also commonly known as Blue Pea and Asian Pigeonwings and is a very common health drink in South East Asia.
It is a climbing plant that grows readily in South East Asia and particularly Thailand and Vietnam where it is used for drinks and as a food coloring. It is from the blue pea flowers that blue flower tea is made.
The flowers are also dried and readily available in most countries. You can use either dried Butterfly Pea Flowers (available here) or fresh flowers to make the tea.
If you look at the individual flowers, which are beautiful, you will understand the feminity of the first part of its formal name – but let's not go into that.
What is Butterfly Pea Tea?
Butterfly Pea Tea is a drink made by infusing the flowers of the Butterfly Pea plant in hot water, much as regular tea is infused to make tea. it can be drunk either hot or cold and is regularly served in Thai hotels and upmarket massage outlets.
If using fresh flowers you should remove the green stem and leaves since if left on they will turn the tea a little bitter in taste.
If using dried flowers then you can omit this step.
How to Make Butterfly Tea?
This blue tea is easy to make as you can see from the recipe below or follow along with our video in the recipe.
Just follow along and be amazed but be sure not to steep the flowers too long otherwise the taste will become strong and less pleasant – just as regular tea gets strong if left in the pot too long!
How Does Butterfly Pea Tea Change Color?
You will find children and adults alike amazed at the way the tea changes color when you add lime juice or some other ingredients.
When you make the tea you essentially have a concentrate to dilute which produces a deep blue color that is really quite beautiful and mesmerizing where the ice cubes float.
Adding lime juice or roselle changes the PH of the drink which causes the color to change from deep blue to purple or even red.
If you are into making cocktails it is an easy thing to make some ice with diluted lime juice and the drink will gradually change color as you drink it and making a ring of color that cocktail makers call a mood ring.
It’s a bit of fun for the kids and quite unusual for a drink. Try it!
What are the benefits of Butterfly Pea Tea?
Blue Tea has many health benefits the most well known of which are the anti-oxidants as well as balance to calm the digestive system.
Many people find blue tea increases your energy levels a little and add to alertness and for me, I find it best drunk cold with ice but perhaps that is because Thailand, at least where I live in Central Thailand, is very hot!
The flowers contain catechins which are believed to speed up the metabolism and help burn fat because of the increased calorie burn rate.
Apart from the beautifully exciting blue color of the drink, many people find it helps improve your mood too.
Like green and regular tea, the drink is a mild diuretic which helps your urinary system get rid of excess water and may help reduce anxiety and regulate blood sugar levels but there is not much scientific evidence to back it up yet.
How Many Cups of Butterfly Pea Tea Can You Drink A Day?
Butterfly Pea Tea does not contain caffeine and so avoids the issue that regular tea and, even worse, coffee have and so is a better alternative.
However, like anything, it should be drunk in moderation. I drink 3-5 glasses a day as part of my water intake because drinking plain water all day is quite boring.
In Thailand, you will find the drink served in receptions at hotels, in spas and massage rooms, served after meals and added to various dishes. So you will see it is commonly used.
I stress that I am neither a doctor nor have any medical background but can tell you that the general consensus is that 3-5 glasses a day or less is fine.
Anyway, variety is the spice of life right?
Butterfly Pea Tea Recipe
ฺButterfly Pea Tea RecipePin Recipe
- 1 Cup Butterfly Pea Flowers (Dry or Fresh)
- 1 Liter Drinking Water 2 pints
- 1 Tablespoon Honey
- 2 Tablespoon Brown Sugar
- 2 Limes
- 1 Can Sprite
- 1 Bottle Soda Water
Making The Concentrate
- Boil the water in a saucepan.
- If using fresh flowers then while waiting for the water to boil, prepare the Butterfly Pea Flowers by cutting the green bottoms off. If using dried flowers you can use as they come.
- When the water has boiled turn off the gas and tip in the flowers and put the lid on the saucepan. Allow to sit for 5 minutes without further heating (if you carry on boiling water a bitter taste will develop).
- When your 5 minutes is up strain the tea concentrate into a jug.
- Whilst still warm add the honey and brown sugar and stir to dissolve (you can adjust sweetness by adding more or less to your taste).
Making a Beautiful & Magical Drink
- Pour about 1/4 to 1/3rd of the tea concentrate into a glass with ice and add 2 teaspoons of lime juice and the blue color will turn to purple like magic.
- Top up with soda, sprite or 7-up or just plain water. You can also drink like hot tea with some snacks.Enjoy your healthy drink!
What is the Butterfly Pea Plant Used For?
The plant has medicinal uses in holistic medicine where the leaves are applied as a poultice to reduce swelling and the root is ground up and juiced as a treatment to disperse catarrh and to treat asthma.
But for me, I use it to make tea, though I know others use it as a dye especially to color ice cream and rice desserts.
Are There Any Side Effects to Butterfly Pea Tea?
I have never had any negative side effects in drinking this drink and as I have mentioned above it is a common drink across Thailand.
If you are pregnant then perhaps you should consult your doctor if you intend drinking it on a regular basis.
I have no experience of using the plant for medicinal use and if you are thinking about that then please ask your doctor or alternative health specialist before using it.
Frequently Asked Questions About Butterfly Tea or Blue Flower tea
No. There is no caffeine in Butterfly Pea Flower Tea (or Blue Tea as it is commonly known). Butterfly Pea Tea is herbal based and contains anti-oxidants that has a number of health benefits including being a digestive aid.
Butterfly Pea Tea is safe to drink but like everything, in moderation. The tea contains several vitamins such as Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and even more vitamin C if you add lemon or lime and honey to it. It also has antioxidants which make it quite healthy.
It is widely drunk in Thailand without any reported ill effects so it can be assumed to be safe in normal quantities. However, if you are pregnant then you should seek medical advice before drinking it, just in case.
Butterfly Pea Tea should steep for about 5 minutes for the best results. After 5 minutes remove the flowers and drink either hot or cold with ice cubes as a cooler. Add in lime or lemon and honey and also try adding soda as a spritzer. It's a great summer drink and fun for the kids.
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I am a Thai mum and love cooking for my children. Over the years, I have taken my family recipes as well as ones borrowed from friends and adapted them to make them even tastier. I publish my authentic Thai Food Recipes here for all to enjoy around the world. When I get a chance to travel I publish information to help others visiting Thailand.