Color-Changing Butterfly Pea Flower Tea Is a Mood Ring in a Glass
A few weeks ago, kicking around the interwebs, an image of a bright blue beverage jumped from my computer screen and into my dreams. The drink was be-yoo-tiful. What looked like flower petals floated in a Yves Klein-ian hue in a clear glass. And wait, there's more: not only was it stunning from the jump, but the color changed to a glowy violet when you added lemon juice, like a drinkable mood ring. This magic liquid, it turns out, is a tea made from the butterfly pea flower, a plant native to Southeast Asia. As with just about every other beverage having a moment right now—I’m looking at you, golden milk—butterfly pea flower tea has been consumed for centuries, but has only recently started appearing in the States, appearing in things like upscale cocktails, thanks to international sellers like BlueChai.
BlueChai was nice enough to send me some of their BlueChai Blue Tea—a blend of dried butterfly pea flowers and fragrant lemongrass—to experiment with. And this morning, I ventured into the (sort of) great unknown. And people, let me tell you: the tea lived up to the hype. It was SO blue and then SO purple.
But how does this color changing happen? I’ll walk you through it.
To get started, I grabbed the box of Blue Tea and a clear glass for optimal color-change viewing. I added a couple teaspoons to the bottom of the glass—it only calls for 1 teaspoon per cup, but I was dealing with a large glass and photographic demands. You get it.
Next I chopped a lemon into wedges and filled a pitcher with boiling water. And that's it. We were ready.
First, I poured the water over the tea.
And I watched it combine. (Isn't that crazy? It looks like straight-up blue food coloring.)
I gave the tea a stir, let it steep for about four minutes (BlueChai recommends 3-5 minutes), and then removed the tea leaves. Then, I squeezed a lemon wedge into the glass. You could see the effect immediately.
And then I squeezed in another one, just for good measure. You really don't need much to make it the most beautiful magenta-violet you've ever seen.
Simply put, much like the way the color of hydrangeas are affected by the pH of the soil they grow in, if you mess with the pH of butterfly pea flower tea, it changes color as well.
So how does it taste? Pretty good! The flavor is a mild floral, cut by the citrus of both the lemongrass and the actual lemon. It's caffeine-free, which means you can freak out your coworkers by sipping on something beautiful but insane-looking throughout the day. Seems like a win-win to me.