Have you ever wondered how color-changing tea works? Spoiler alert: There’s a not-so-secret ingredient called butterfly pea flower.
This unique flower is well-known for its natural ability to make almost anything blue, but it has some amazing health benefits as well. Let’s discover all of the benefits found in this amazing tea!
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What Is Butterfly Pea Flower?
The Butterfly Pea (known in scientific circles as Clitoria ternatea) is a vine with brightly colored flowers. Also known as the Asian Pigeonwings, this vine’s flowers are typically vibrantly blue or purple.
Okay, so where do peas come in? This plant is part of the pea family and actually creates edible pea pods just like other pea plants. In fact, much of this plant is edible.
The origin of this plant is shrouded in mystery because it is highly invasive. If left on its own, butterfly pea will choke out native flora. However, experts agree that the butterfly pea plant was likely native to Africa and India.
There are 35 species of this plant, with at least one of them growing in the United States. The American version is a lavender variety, while many blue butterfly peas grow in southeast Asia.
This plant gets its name from its brightly colored flowers, which are wide and thin like butterfly wings. At a glance, these flowers may even look like butterflies gently nestled between the plant’s leaves.
Although these flowers are beautiful, they only last 24 hours once they bloom, so harvesting the flowers requires great attention to detail.
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8 Health Benefits of Butterfly Pea Flower
Butterfly pea has been used in folk remedies for centuries, and researchers have confirmed many of its uses. Here are some of our favorite benefits of butterfly pea flowers.
Supports Healthy Skin
Butterfly pea flower doesn’t just make a beautiful tea – it can bring out your natural beauty, too. Specifically, butterfly pea flower can help restore radiance to your skin and hair.
One recent study showed that butterfly pea extract can increase skin hydration by 70%. Butterfly pea flower extract can also support your skin against collagenase and even stimulate collagen production.
Collagenase is an enzyme in your skin that breaks down collagen, the protein that supports skin elasticity. While collagenase is a normal part of your skin health, it can be overstimulated by UV radiation and oxidative stress.
Since butterfly pea extract can help regulate collagenase, it’s possible that butterfly pea flower tea can, too. This may be why this blue flower is such a popular skincare ingredient. In any case, tea is a great source of water, and hydrated skin is happy skin.
If you want these glowing benefits, we recommend Yum Cha Tea Co's Blue Coconut tea. If you want gorgeous, glowing skin, just add water!
Promotes Hair Growth
If you’re looking to thicken your hair, you may want to try some butterfly tea. Butterfly pea can promote hair health, and many cosmetic and beauty companies sell hair growth products that include butterfly pea flower as the main ingredient.
This is because butterfly pea tea contains anthocyanins, which are a type of flavonoid that is responsible for blue coloring. Anthocyanin can promote better blood flow in the scalp and strengthen hair follicles, helping your hair get stronger and thicker.
High in Antioxidants
Antioxidants are compounds that can track down and neutralize free radicals, AKA atoms that are missing an electron.
As free radicals search for their missing electron, they can cause some major damage. A little bit of damage is normal, as free radicals come from just about everywhere.
However, your body may not have enough antioxidants stored up to fight away all these free radicals. When an imbalance like this happens, it is generally referred to as oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress is responsible for many serious conditions and long-term illnesses, so it’s important to always support your body’s antioxidant levels. Fortunately, butterfly pea flower tea is high in antioxidants.
Butterfly pea’s antioxidants include flavonoids and polyphenols. While some of these are similar to antioxidants you might find in green tea, this herbal tea has some unique antioxidant properties all to itself.
Might Boost Brainpower
Butterfly pea flower has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine to help memory and promote mental clarity. This ancient folk medicine originated in India and is still in practice today.
Fortunately, science has confirmed this for us. One animal study shows that butterfly pea displays nootropic activity, meaning it can support better memory and enhance cognitive performance. One thing’s for sure – there’s more to this blue flower than meets the eye!
If you want to explore these benefits for yourself, we recommend trying Rainbow by Rainy Day Tea Co. This tea contains bits of apple, rosehip, hibiscus, and butterfly pea flower for a super delicious brain boost.
Supports Reproductive Health
While we still need more scientific research to confirm this, traditional Ayurvedic medicine also uses butterfly pea as a fertility treatment. Supposedly, this flowering vine can help increase male fertility.
Butterfly pea has also been used as an aphrodisiac, although its sultry properties have not been scientifically proven (yet). Whatever the case, it can’t hurt to try a cup of butterfly pea tea and see where it takes you.
May Support Overall Wellness
Butterfly pea tea may also help support a healthy metabolism by promoting healthy blood sugar levels. In fact, one study showed that a butterfly pea drink could promote healthy blood glucose levels, even if there was sugar in the drink.
This blue flower may also promote healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which could support our overall heart health. However, we need more research before we can officially confirm butterfly pea’s heart-supporting abilities.
Butterfly pea flower tea is caffeine-free, which may be just what you need. If you have a high caffeine sensitivity or a low caffeine tolerance, then chances are caffeine gives you the jitters.
While tea is generally known for a less stressful caffeine experience, those with super high sensitivities may still experience discomfort from black or green tea. In this case, an herbal tea like butterfly pea tea may be a good option for you.
Butterfly tea is known for something magical: It can change colors! This isn’t exactly a health benefit, but it’s definitely a bonus in our book.
The same anthocyanins that promote hair growth are also responsible for butterfly pea flower’s deep blue color. In fact, you can also find anthocyanins in blueberries.
This strong pigment makes butterfly pea flower an excellent natural food coloring, and it’s used all over the world for just this purpose. In America, dried butterfly pea flowers are often powdered and combined with matcha to make delicious blue butterfly lattes.
In Thailand, the flower’s natural dyes are used to make nam dok anchan, a sugary blue drink traditionally served with lime.
This drink is served with lime because, while the tea itself has a rich blue hue, a simple drop of lime juice can turn the whole drink a fabulous magenta or pink color. This is all based on pH.
Since lime juice is acidic, it alters the pH levels of the drink and changes the color of the dye. This also works with lemon juice, which is also acidic.
If you want to try this for yourself, we recommend Mermaid Lagoon by Trader Nick’s Tea. This green tea contains butterfly pea flowers, lemongrass, pomegranate, and goji berries for a truly magical experience.
Even better, butterfly pea tea has little to no side effects when used in moderation. However, it’s always a good idea to discuss an herbal concoction with your primary care provider before drinking it.
The Bottom Line
Butterfly pea tea is the hottest tea trend right now, and it’s easy to see why. With its beautiful hue and color-changing magic, it’s a gorgeous Instagram drink. However, butterfly pea tea also has several health benefits that range from glowing skin to overall well-being. Check out our cloud tea recipe to learn how to make your own cup of delicious swirling blue tea!
If you want to discover more fun teas like butterfly pea tea, check out our monthly tea subscription! Just take our quick quiz, and we’ll deliver personalized recommendations to your door. No assembly required!
Magic Tea Shop
Do you believe in magic? Just in time for spooky season, we opened our secret Spellbook of tea potions, and selected a few of our favorites just for you! Shop color-changing and enchanting teas, teas that go bump in the night, and more teas that make the ordinary feel a little extra magical.
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