Butterfly pea flower dessert
Rolls made of rice flour, filled with peanuts and served with chilis; the purple colour is natural, coming from the butterfly pea flower. (Photo Credit: Jana Teneva)

Thai people simply love colours. One will spot this and keep seeing it everywhere, even in the desserts. Which is how I came to be looking at the rice-flour-rolls in three colours (white, yellow, and purple), while wondering why they colour their food so affectionately. As if our food guide was reading my mind, she pointed at the desserts she had just bought for us and the most unexpected explanation came: Thai people colour their food with natural ingredients, mostly plant infusions. Pandan leaves give the light green colours, while the butterfly pea flower has and gives violet-purple tones.

butterfly pea
The butterfly pea flower grows along the road and in the gardens of Thai people. (Photo Credit: Jana Teneva)

The flowers of the butterfly pea are used a lot in southeast Asia as a cooling drink. The tea is often served cold to help fight the heat after being sweetened (another thing Thai people are simply crazy about).

The Magic of Butterfly Pea Happens in a Few Simple Steps:

  • Brewing a cup of a butterfly pea flower tea surprises at first with its deep cobalt blue nuances.
  • After squeezing lemon juice into the infusion it changes colour from dark blue to deep violet, as if you are performing a lab experiment.

Did You Know?

  • Next to being used and served as ice-tea, butterfly pea is also used in a lot in cocktails due to its natural psychedelic colouring properties.
  • Butterfly pea flower tea is often combined with lemongrass in Thailand.

But let me elaborate that this beautiful flower is not only a keeper because of the blue and purple colours it brings you. The plant contains a lot of antioxidants, it is said to support hair growth and increase eyesight. Some sources even talk about fertility enhancement.

And if you aren’t going to Thailand or Asia anytime soon, you can order dried butterfly pea flowers online. The caffeine-free tea does not taste at all sweet, but has a pleasant herbal earthy flavour. Thai people love it with fresh squeezed lemon or lime juice and of course sweetened, usually with honey or palm sugar. For sure it is worth giving a try at least once!

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About Jana Teneva

Jana is a real fruit-junkie (watermelon being her favourite) and a big (goat-)cheese-lover. She speaks six languages next to her mother tongue Bulgarian and is in love with gourmet discoveries while travelling, diving and sunshine-catching.


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3 Responses to "How to Drink: Butterfly Pea Flower"

  1. Pingback: Edible Flowers, From the Garden to the Kitchen | Travel Gluttons

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