Move over black and green tea. How about trying some blue tea instead? This variant not only tastes good, but has plenty of health benefits as well. Currently trending in a few tea bars and health cafes in Kolkata, this herbal tea is made by infusing blue pea or butterfly pea flowers (Aparajita). The beverage has zero caffeine content and changes colour when a dash of lime is added to it. Priti Sen Arora, owner of a city café that specialises in a variety of tea concoctions, said, “Apart from rendering a beautiful lilac or purple colour, butterfly pea flower is a mood enhancer, stress reliever and is filled with anti-inflammatory properties. It is also said to improve cognitive function.”
Unique properties of butterfly pea flower
What sets the butterfly pea flower apart from other flowers is its unique property to change colour when it comes in contact with anything acidic. The bright blue colour of the flower extract will turn pink or purple due to a change in the pH level when a few drops of lime juice are added to it. When some hibiscus leaves are added to the tea, one can get a beautiful red-coloured beverage. Rituparna Banerjee, founder of a city-based culinary studio, said, “In one of our food pop-ups, where we introduced blue pea flower tea, and squeezed a lemon into it to show the guests how the colour changed from blue to purple, they were surprised. I think this change of colour adds a lot of drama and is therefore enjoyed by all age groups.”
Influence of butterfly pea flowers in Bengali cuisine
The butterfly pea or the Aparajita flower is used to worship Lord Shiva in West Bengal. Talking about the influence of the flower in the Bengali cuisine, food historian Pritha Sen said, “The Aparajita flower is used in our household for various religious rituals. Digging into the history of the usage of the flower in the Bengali cuisine, I found that it has not been used much except for the fact that the Rajbansi community of north Bengal used this flower extract to add colour in sherbets.”
Usage in global cuisine
The flower is widely used in Southeast Asia as a natural food colouring added to glutinous rice. In Burmese and Thai cuisines, butterfly pea flowers are also dipped in batter and fried. In the Kelantan region of east Malaysia, people add a few buds of the flower in a pot while cooking white rice to impart a bluish tint, which is known as nasi kerabu. In Thailand and Vietnam, the tea is often mixed with honey and lemon to enhance the taste and give the beverage a pink-purple colour. It is found in both hot and cold variants.
Health benefits of blue tea
The blue flower is packed with loads of health benefits. “The tea is not just a great antioxidant but also reduces inflammation. It’s a stress reliever and helps improve eyesight too. This type of tea has been there for ages and is quite popular in Southeast Asian countries. The trend is fast catching up in the city and is definitely a rage for its colour changing property,” said chef Urvika Kanoi, owner of a city café.
1. Promotes weight loss
2. Acts as natural paracetamol
3. Improves eyesight
4. Combats the effect of diabetes
5. Improves heart health
6. Packed with antioxidants
7. Treats menstruation problems
8. Combats hair loss
9. Effective against stress, anxiety and depression
10. Has anti-inflammatory properties
Items you must try at eateries
1. Butterfly pea flower tea (hot or cold)
3. Butterfly pea flower beer
4. Butterfly pea flower cheesecake
6. Cocktails or mocktails
How to brew Butterfly pea flower tea at home?
Ingredients: 500 ml of water, 10 dried butterfly pea flowers
Method: Boil water in a saucepan. Remove the sepal (green part) of the flower and pour it into the saucepan. Let it boil for 10 minutes. As flowers start to fade, the water will turn blue. Since these flowers don’t have a distinct smell or taste, one can add spices like cloves, cardamom or ginger before pouring it into a cup. You can also add a dash of lime to enhance the taste and see the beverage turn purplish pink from blue.
Source: Times of India