Have you ever come across this brightly hued blue flower that is known to impart its gorgeous indigo hue readily in water? The butterfly pea flower (Clitoria ternatea) is known for its bright bluish purple flowers, with its trailing vines, that’s natively found in South East Asia.
Clitoria ternatea, commonly known as Asian pigeonwings, bluebellvine, blue pea, butterfly pea, cordofan pea, Darwin pea, blue ternate, is a plant species belonging to the family Fabaceae. In the Philippines, we normally use the flowers to steep some delicious tea-well, the tea tastes bland, actually… BUT we all know that the butterfly pea flower packs a punch in every cup.
I felt fortunate to spot four pieces of butterfly pea flowers in our front yard this morning as it has been quite a while since our C. ternatea plant has bloomed. The plant is a crawling vine that blooms in phases. As I understand, the C. ternatea is a tropical plant that loves humid spaces so the scorching heat of the Philippine summer weather in the past few months might have stunted its blooming phase. Now that we’re getting a bit more rain showers, our C. ternatea plant is back in parading its beauty. But, generally, the butterfly pea flower isn’t hard to grow or propagate and is very low maintenance.
In traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, C. ternatea has been consumed for centuries as an edible dye, or even as a herbal tea prepared as a memory enhancer, a stress buster, and a calmative agent. The C. ternatea is known to be rich in anti-oxidants and is great for overall skin and hair health. The plant is also known to have anti-inflammatory properties, which may alleviate body pains, migraine, and swelling due to wounds and headaches.
The butterfly pea extracts boost the levels of a chemical called 𝘢𝘤𝘦𝘵𝘺𝘭𝘤𝘩𝘰𝘭𝘪𝘯𝘦 in the brain. High 𝘢𝘤𝘦𝘵𝘺𝘭𝘤𝘩𝘰𝘭𝘪𝘯𝘦 levels in the brain are known to decrease age-associated memory loss and improve memory. Thus, consuming blue butterfly pea may help improve thinking abilities and boost overall brain health. 🧠
To prepare yourself a cup of tea, just steep 5 to 10 flowers in a cup of freshly boiled water for 15 minutes. The C. ternatea flowers will readily impart its vibrant blue hue into your water. But a little agitation won’t hurt as well. I do love leaving my flowers in for as long as I can and I normally steep for two rounds (or 2 cups) in every batch of flowers.
A lot of people I know loves serving their butterfly pea flower tea with ice but I tend to prefer my cup served hot or warm. To manage your expectations, the butterfly pea flower tea tastes vegetal and bland. So I thought of adding a teaspoon of Manuka honey to improve its taste.
In butterfly pea flowers, the main anthocyanin responsible for the deep blue to purple color is delphinidin. The blue colour changes to purple in the presence of a little acid, becoming hot pink as the acidity increases. You may hear a lot of people adding a splash of lemon to turn their cup from blue to purple. In here you see how the color changed to purple with a teaspoon of Manuka honey. 🍯
I enjoy taking this tea as it’s a known powerhouse of health promoting antioxidants, flavonoids, and peptides. It is said to be rich in bioflavonoids that can promote hair growth and reduce greying of hair. The antioxidants in butterfly blue pea flower stimulate collagen and elastin synthesis, which helps rejuvenate the skin and lessen wrinkles and other signs of aging. Some accounts say that the C. ternatea flower can aid in weight loss and may be beneficial for diabetics.
Either way, I don’t see myself holding back in taking this wonderful tea everytime our C. ternatea plant decides to bless me with its abundant blooms. 💙