Read Everything About Butterfly Pea Tea, The Most Beautiful Drink

Updated on: April 28, 2023
Author: Nick
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butterfly pea tea

Would you like to try a tea that is both healthy and beautiful?

Then you should try butterfly pea tea!

This tea comes from the butterfly pea flower, which is native to Southeast Asia. This tea is of deep blue color and changes color to purple when you add citrus to it, making it one of the most beautiful and fun drinks around

Certainly, it’s an Instagram-worthy one! 

In this post, we will talk about all things butterfly pea tea: what it is, where it comes from, why it changes color, how to prepare it, and the health benefits and side effects of drinking it. We will also include a few recipes from Southeast Asia so you can enjoy this delicious tea in all its varieties!

What Is Butterfly Pea Tea?

Butterfly pea tea, also known as butterfly pea flower tea or blue tea, is a drink made from the butterfly pea flower, a beautiful blue flower native to Southeast Asia.

When butterfly pea tea is brewed, it releases its colors, resulting in a mesmerizing deep blue tea. Depending on how long you infuse it for, the blue can range from light sky to a dark deep intense blue.

It has subtle earthy flavors and a flowery aroma.

Butterfly pea flower tea has been trending due to its Instagram-worthy deep blue, and its color-changing properties!

When you mix this tea with acidic drinks (lemon, lime juice, passion fruit, etc), this tea turns into a purple or even reddish color, depending on how acidic the juice you add is.

Butterfly Pea Flower

If you add an alkaline drink (a base), the drink turns into a green drink. However, I have not found a drink that is alkaline and tastes good. Milk goes well with it but it's not sufficiently alkaline and cloudiness hides its green color. Let me know in the comments if you know of any!

Besides looking good, this tea also boasts many health impacts as we'll discuss below.

Where Does Butterfly Pea Tea Come From?

This herbal tea comes from the butterfly pea flower. The butterfly pea plant is known to science as Clitoria ternatea because these blue flowers apparently reminded the scientists who named it of the female genitals...

This flower is native to Equatorial Asia and has been used for centuries, both as a culinary ingredient as well as Ayurvedic medicine.

It has also been used for natural food coloring and for dyes in the textile industry.

In Thailand, there is a drink made from butterfly pea tea called "nam dok anchan". This drink is a type of lemonade and consists of butterfly pea tea, honey, sugar, limes, and sparkling water.

In Malaysian cuisine, this flower is used to make "nasi kerabu", a blue sticky rice, usually eaten with fish, chicken, and crackers.

So as you can see, the butterfly pea flower and its tea has been used for a long time in Southeast Asia. 

The Western World is only just starting to catch on to this delicious and healthy drink!

How Does Butterfly Pea Tea Taste?

Despite its intense colors, butterfly pea tea has a subtle woody and earthy flavor and a light flowery aroma.

It can be enjoyed without any additives, so you can truly appreciate the delicate flavors of the butterfly pea flower.

However, if you want to make it more interesting, you can add some lemon or lime juice to change the color to purple. It's also delicious when sweetened with honey.

Why Does Butterfly Pea Tea Change Colors?

Butterfly pea tea contains different types of molecules within the Anthocyanin group. When infused in water, these molecules are extracted from the butterfly pea flowers and released into the water.

Without getting too technical (but if you want to, read this paper) the color of butterfly tea is affected by the pH level of the drink. When butterfly pea tea is mixed with an acidic drink, it turns purple or reddish because the Anthocyanin molecules change shape when they come into contact with an acid, and thus absorb different wavelengths of light.

Nam Dok Anchan Drink

When butterfly pea tea is mixed with an alkaline drink, it turns green because the molecules also change shape, absorbing other wavelengths of light.

This means that Butterfly Pea Tea can be used as a pH indicator! If you're technically savvy, read this paper.

What are the Health Benefits of Butterfly Pea Tea?

Butterfly pea tea doesn't just sit and look pretty...

It features lots of health benefits if consumed regularly. These include:

  • This tea can alleviate inflammation and may prevent cancer. This tea is rich in ternatin anthocyanins that provide protection against chronic inflammation (1) and are cytotoxic against cancer cells (2). These two benefits are further compounded due to the presence of other antioxidants including Delphinidin-3,5-glucoside, p-Coumaric acid and Kaemphferol (3)(4)(5).

  • The butterfly pea flower supports healthy skin by increasing hydration (6). However, this is achieved through a topical application instead of tea.

  • Butterfly pea tea may help with weight loss by controlling cellular mechanisms related to lipid accumulation (7). There have been some other studies done in animals; however, further research is needed on how butterfly tea can be incorporated into your diet to help with weight loss.

  • Blue tea may help reduce the risk of diabetes by increasing antioxidant levels while reducing insulin and sugar concentrations (8)

It has also been traditionally used to treat fevers, urinary tract infections, and digestive issues. It is also claimed this flower is a brain booster and can help you calm down. 

However, further scientific evidence is needed to confirm these benefits.

Possible Side Effects of Butterfly Tea

Butterfly pea tea is generally safe when consumed in moderation.

However, always consult your doctor if you are pregnant, are taking medications, or if you have any underlying health conditions.

There have been some reports that butterfly tea consumption can result in digestive issues such as diarrhea, stomach pain, or even nausea. However, there is insufficient research to back up these claims.

Just remember to consume in moderation!

Does Butterfly Pea Tea Have Caffeine?

No, butterfly pea tea is naturally caffeine-free. This makes it a perfect choice for those who are trying to limit their caffeine intake or are sensitive to its effects.

How Do I Make Butterfly Pea Tea at Home?

Now that you know all about butterfly pea tea, it's time to learn how to make it!

Butterfly pea tea is very easy to make and only requires two ingredients: butterfly pea flowers and water.

  1. First, start by boiling some water.
  2. Once the water is boiling, infuse with 1 tsp of butterfly pea flowers per 6 oz of water.
  3. Allow the mixture to steep for around 3-5 minutes.
  4. Once finished, strain the tea and enjoy!

By the way, the flowers are usually large enough that you can scoop them with a spoon. No need for a tea infuser!

But sometimes the dried flowers are crushed or powdered. In that case, learn how to make tea without a strainer if you have a teapot without an infuser!

Bonus: add some fresh lemon or lime to see some magic. Your drink will turn purple! Hibiscus tea also goes really well with blue tea and will trigger its color-changing properties!

P.S: You can even find it in extract and powder form!

Butterfly Pea Powder

How To Make Nam Dok Anchan

Nam dok anchan (น้ำดอกอัญชัน) is a refreshing drink made from butterfly pea flowers that are common in Thailand. In the West, it's usually known as butterfly pea tea lemonade. It's usually served over ice.

It's easy to make and we'll show you how!

What you need

  • 1 heatproof jug
  • a small pot
  • a strainer
  • your favorite glass


Serves 3-4 people, depending on the size of your glass.

  • ½ cup of butterfly pea flowers
  • ½ liter of water
  • ½ tbsp of honey (or more if you like sweeter drinks)
  • 1 tbsp of brown sugar (or more if you like sweeter drinks)
  • 1-2 limes (depending how juicy they are)
  • 1 liter of soda water
  • ice cubes


  1. In a small pot boil the water.

  2. While the water is boiling, juice the lime (lemon juice is fine too).

  3. Once the water starts boiling, remove it from the heat and transfer the water to a heatproof jug.

  4. Add the butterfly pea flowers to the jug with the hot water. Let steep for 5 minutes. Using a strainer or a spoon, discard the flowers. You have now made your butterfly pea tea.

  5. To the tea, add the honey and the sugar and stir. Let the tea cool.

  6. To your favorite glass (make sure it's transparent to see the magic happen!!) add 3-4 large ice cubes.

  7. Pour the cooled tea into your glass to about 1/3 its height.

  8. Get your camera ready because it's magic time. Add 2 tsp of the lime juice. Admire how your drink turns purple.

  9. Top off your drink with soda.

  10. Add one flower on top for garnish, and to maximize the Instaworthiness of your drink.

Pro Tips:

Don't worry too much about the proportions. Everybody has different preferences, just experiment with the level of honey, sugar, lime and pea flower tea! This will also change the color of your drink, so it's fun!

If you are using fresh flowers, cut the green tips of the flower. If using dried flowers, there is no need.

For a different feel and taste, use water or ginger ale instead of soda water!

What Other Drinks Use Butterfly Pea Tea?

Butterfly pea tea is not only used in nam dok anchan, but there are many other butterfly pea tea recipes out there! Drinking blue tea has never been this fun.

Some of our favorites include butterfly pea gin and tonic, and butterfly pea iced teas.

You can make amazing iced teas with blue pea. By this, we mean true teas from the Camellia Sinensis plant.

Try using different types of black tea, or you can also create an amazing-looking (and tasting) concoction with matcha or green tea.

Another eye-catching drink is pea tea latte. The cloudiness of the milk blends beautifully with the blue tea. Simply froth some milk, and slowly add it on top of your iced pea tea. Do not stir!

I'm sure this would also go really well with bubble tea. So I'll be experimenting and reporting back to you once I come up with a beautiful and delicious recipe!

When I have time, I could even try to make some popping boba and see what happens when I drop them in an acidic drink!

Frequently Asked Questions

Does butterfly pea tea help you sleep?

Butterfly pea tea does not contain caffeine, so it will not keep you up at night. It does not have any sedative effects, but it can help you unwind and relax as it's a soothing drink.

Is Butterfly pea flower toxic?

No, despite some rumors online, this flower is not toxic to humans.

Where Can I Buy Butterfly Pea Tea?

You can buy it online or at a specialty tea store. Most commonly you will find dried butterfly pea flowers, but butterfly pea flower extract and powders also exist.

What is the Difference Between Butterfly Pea Tea vs. Purple Tea?

Purple tea is a true tea, that is, it comes from the camellia sinensis plant. This is the same plant as black tea, green tea, oolong tea, and so on. That means it contains caffeine as well. Blue tea, or butterfly pea tea, comes from the Clitoria ternatea plant, an entirely different species of plant.

How Long Does Butterfly Pea Tea Last?

Butterfly pea tea will last about a year if it is stored in a cool, dry place. Once opened, it is best to consume within six months. The butterfly pea flowers can also be frozen for up to two years.

butterfly pea flower tea

Bottom Line

We hope you enjoyed our comprehensive guide to butterfly pea tea!

This tea is a delicious and healthy way to enjoy the benefits of butterfly pea flowers.

It is also a beautiful drink that is perfect for summer days or any special occasion.

Happy sipping!

Nick loves coffee... Actually, he NEEDS coffee! So, he has dedicated his time to learning all he can about this magical bean. He can make a mean latte, is obsessed with flat whites, and is always up for a cup of java!

This article is intended for informational purposes only. It is not meant to replace professional medical advice, treatment or diagnosis. Do not consume any type of coffee, tea or herbal infusion if you are allergic to it. The information in this article is not intended to treat serious medical conditions. Please seek professional medical advice before using home remedies.

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