Butterfly Pea Tea: The Drink that Changes Color

Generally when I try a drink that is a vibrant color of the rainbow, I am very skeptical of what I am consuming. A certain tea, however, has changed how I look at blue and purple drinks. Butterfly Pea flower is a plant that can be dried and steeped to create a deep blue tea that changes color. This color change occurs because Butterfly Pea is acid-base responsive. When the tea is mixed with a more acidic drink, the solution magically turns purple, sometimes pink. Likewise, the purple drink can return to its original blue color when mixed with a more basic beverage.

Photo courtesy Katya Besch
”Purple Rain” from Constellation Coffee

Butterfly pea tea has caught on with many beverage connoisseurs. Although the tea isn’t something worth seeking out on its own (it can taste a bit murky when it’s not mixed with anything), it is definitely something to look for when mixed with other juices. Cafès are now making different concoctions with the tea and forming different layers of color by mixing in drinks with different densities such as lemonade, orange juice, and syrups. One of these cafés, Constellation Coffee, is right up the street from Prep. At Constellation Coffee, you can order their “Purple Rain” drink which is a mixture of lemonade, butterfly pea tea, and ginger syrup. Before adding the lemonade and ginger, the tea is a bright blue that looks as if it can’t possibly be natural. When the rest of the ingredients are added, the drink becomes a lovely light purple, almost pink drink. The best part about it, though, is that it is very tasty and refreshing. The lemon concentrate gives the drink a bright citrusy note, and the ginger adds a slight hint of spice, decreasing the sweetness of the drink. Overall, it is the perfect after school pick-me-up.

Photo courtesy Katya Besch
The “Love Potion” (Left) and “Butterfly Pea flower lemonade” (Right) from Jin Tea Shop.

Two other versions of butterfly pea drinks that I enjoy are from Jin Tea Shop on Green Street in Pasadena. Although Jin isn’t as close as Constellation, the beverages there are absolutely delicious. An additional perk is that all of their teas are organic! One of these drinks,“Butterfly Pea Flower Lemonade,” is self-explanatory, and the other, more adventurous drink, is called the “Love Potion.” The lemonade is just a simple mixture of lemonade and butterfly pea tea while the love potion is made with passion fruit juice –– with actual pieces of fruit!–– and butterfly pea tea. Both drinks were absolutely scrumptious and sweet (a bit more sweet than the Purple Rain). The lemonade was very similar to the classic tangy beverage we all know, but with floral notes and a beautiful appearance. The Love Potion was a bit sweeter, with a fruitier taste. Both drinks were absolutely delicious and refreshing, with the added bonus of being VERY aesthetically pleasing.

Drinks made from butterfly pea aren’t only found at local cafès. The dried flowers can easily be purchased from retailers such as Amazon and brewed into tea. From there, it’s up to your imagination and cravings to decide what to add next. One super fun drink to make is a color-changing slushie. Here are the instructions: Make butterfly pea tea and freeze the tea into ice cubes. Then make some lemonade and, in a blender, toss the ice into the lemonade and combine. Not only will it be delicious, but as the ice melts and the drink changes color, it will feel as if you just performed some sort of magic trick.

Butterfly Pea tea drinks are great for anyone who loves science, aesthetically pleasing food, or simply fun and tasty drinks!