Butterfly Pea Flower Tea lattes are made from tea leaves that naturally turn liquids blue. Use them to create a pretty, caffeine-free herbal tea latte.
Butterfly Pea Flower Tea Lattes
Last year, I got the amazing opportunity to take a three-week solo trip to Cambodia and Thailand. My intention for the trip? To spend the bulk of my time in temples and jungles and the rest hanging out with locals, eating, and drinking all the incredible foods both countries had to offer. If I just happened to find an orphaned elephant to adopt and bring home with me? All the better.
When researching for my trip, I stumbled across a stunningly blue latte on Instagram. It was from the Blue Whale Maharaj-Wat Pho in Bangkok. The restaurant might not have been the first place to ever make a butterfly pea flower tea latte, but they definitely made it famous. Or Instagram-famous, at least, which is something typically reserved for Jenners and eggs.
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On my second to last day in Thailand, Sandra and I trekked over to the Blue Whale Cafe near the Grand Palace to try their Butterfly Pea Tea Lattes. Our trip involved a speedboat, half a dozen failed attempts to get a taxi to take us from Surat Thani to the Grand Palace, a taxi to the BTS system, 14 stops on the BTS, a tuk tuk from the BTS to near Wat Pho, and finally a three block walk to the Blue Whale. Was the butterfly pea tea latte worth it? Yes. The cafe is adorable, the lattes are sweet and delicious, and it was a fun adventure! I bought 100 grams of tea to make them at home. Abstract latte art coming your way soon! In the meantime… I can't decide which photo I like best. Do you prefer 1 or 2?
And, it’s pretty obvious why. (If it’s not, it’s the intricate latte art! Though, tbh, I’m a little worried about the whale on the right — he should get his blowhole checked.)
And the color-blocked iced blue latte garnished with a flower, saving this pretty fella from its doomed existence as a prom boutonniere.
(The Blue Whale cafe is located at 392/37 Maha Rat Rd Khwaeng Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Khet Phra Nakhon, Bangkok, Thailand if you want to visit. While you’re in the city, I also recommend stopping by SabX2 for Wanton Mee and visiting all one thousand of its temples! What’s sleep again?)
What Is Butterfly Pea Flower Tea?
Butterfly pea what-now? Yeah, I know — that’s quite a name, and only kind of descriptive. Butterfly pea flower tea is made from the bright blue flowers of the Clitoria ternatea — *hee hee* — plant that grows throughout Southeast Asia.
The tea has an earthy, woodsy flavor and is also known as aprajita, cordofan pea, and Asian pigeonwings. (And here you thought sipping on something made with butterflies was weird.)
If you steep the plant’s dried flowers in a liquid such as milk, water, or gin, they will naturally turn it blue. Sort of like how powdered ube turns everything purple, or how acai berries turn everything expensive.
If you’re just making a blue tea, you may want to add a little honey or lemongrass to sweeten it. And, if you want to turn it purple, simply add citrus! A squeeze of lemon or lime will do the magic color-changing trick. That’s how Grimace got the way he is, btw — one great big squeeze of lemon.
Does Butterfly Pea Flower Tea Have any Benefits?
Supposedly, the tea contains antioxidants and, like moon milk, can reduce stress. It may also improve collagen production, hair growth, and brainpower, but there’s not much scientific evidence to support any of these claims. If it works for you, great, if not, it’s still pretty tasty and another way to hydrate!
Where Can I Buy Butterfly Pea Flower Tea?
While it’s rare to find the tea in the States, it’s pretty common in Thailand. At my hotel in Bangkok, many of the trellises were covered in the plant’s vines and showy blue flowers. And, when I was in Chiang Mai, I picked up a 50-gram bag of the dried tea outside the night market for less than three dollars. It’s similar to this one
How to Make a Butterfly Pea Tea Latte
Now, let’s make some lattes! Because, while there are a handful of coffee shops (like the one in Bangkok) where you can sip on this light blue latte, it’s pretty easy to make your own at home. All you’ll need is some butterfly pea flower tea leaves and your milk of choice. You’ll also want a sweetener, like honey, unless you really love earthy flavors like those of plain matcha or a handful of potting soil.
1. Add loose tea leaves to a tea ball or teapot with an infuser basket like this one.
2. Allow the butterfly pea flower tea leaves to steep for about 5 minutes. The blue color will get deeper and the flavor will get richer the longer it steeps, but you don’t want to oversteep it, either. If you’ve returned home from a weekender and discovered your tea is still steeping, you’ve oversteeped it.
3. Meanwhile, steam the milk. (I use this Secura frother every morning for my lattes and every evening for my science experiments.)
4. Pour the tea into a mug or glass. Pour the milk on top.
5. Drizzle honey or whatever sweetener you choose on top. One teaspoon of honey should be enough.
If you don’t have a teapot, you can steep the tea in the mug with tea bags or your tea ball. If you don’t have a mug, you can borrow your roommate’s — just be sure to clean and return it after you’re done with it.
Should You Use Tea Bags or Loose Tea When Making a Latte?
I prefer loose tea to tea bags. The flavor tends to be better and it results in less waste. Before I got my super cute magic tea pot infuser, I used tea bags.
Both work, but if you’re going to be drinking a lot of tea, I recommend investing in a teapot or at least a tea ball you like. Investment tips like these are for informational purposes only. You should not construe any such information or other material as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.
Butterfly Pea Flower Tea LattePrint Recipe
- 1 teaspoon blue pea flower tea
- 8 oz. water
- ½ cup milk
- 1 teaspoon honey (or your preferred sweetener)
- Add loose tea leaves into a tea ball or teapot with an infuser basket. Pour in a cup of hot water.
- Allow the butterfly pea flower tea leaves to steep for 5 minutes. The blue color will get the deeper and the flavor will get richer the longer it steeps, but don't oversteep.
- Steam the milk.
- Pour the hot water into a mug or glass. Pour the milk on top.
- Drizzle honey on top.
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