Butterfly Pea Flower (Blue Tea): Benefits and Effects
Often featured in cocktails, cosmetics, and herbal tea blends, butterfly pea flower is an ingredient well-known for its brilliant blue hue.
You may have heard about butterfly pea flower in health and diet circles. In recent years, the plant has also been studied for its antioxidant content and healthy properties.
In particular, some studies suggest that butterfly pea flower may help ensure skin and hair health, promote weight loss, and reduce blood sugar levels.
This article will take an in-depth look at some of the key benefits and side effects of butterfly pea flower, along with some ideas for how to use it.
What is butterfly pea flower?
Also known by its scientific name "Clitoria ternatea", the butterfly pea is a plant native to Asia. You may recognize it by its striking, vibrant blue flowers.
It is also rich in anthocyanins, which are the antioxidant compounds responsible for its unique color. For this reason, manufactures may use butterfly pea flower in cosmetics or as a natural dye for foods, drinks, and textiles.
The flowers are also commonly brewed into an herbal tea, often alongside ingredients like lemongrass, honey, and lemon.
When the acidity of the pea flower tea changes, the color changes as well. This quality makes butterfly pea flower a popular ingredient among mixologists for specialty cocktails.
Additionally, it’s known for its medicinal properties and has been associated with a variety of potential health benefits.
Nutrients in butterfly pea flower
Butterfly pea flowers are rich in anthocyanin compounds called ternatins, which give the plant its vibrant hue.
Test-tube studies suggest that ternatins can alleviate inflammation and may prevent cancer cell growth.
Additionally, the plant contains several other antioxidants, including:
Kaemphferol. This compound has been studied extensively for its cancer-fighting properties. Test-tube studies indicate that it may kill off cancer cells.
p-Coumaric acid. Some research suggests that p-coumaric acid could have anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antiviral effects, which may help protect against disease.
Delphinidin-3,5-glucoside. According to one study, this antioxidant may help stimulate immune function and cause cell death in colorectal cancer cells.
Potential health benefits of butterfly pea flower
Butterfly pea flowers may be associated with several health benefits.
Supports skin and hair health
Cosmetic manufacturers boast about butterfly pea flowers’ effectiveness in everything from skin care serums to hair mists and shampoos.
According to a 2021 study, butterfly pea extract may increase your skin hydration by 70% one hour after topical application.
A 2012 animal study found that butterfly pea extract may be more effective at promoting hair growth than minoxidil, which is a common product used to treat hair loss.
Butterfly pea flower contains a rich array of antioxidants, which may also be beneficial for promoting hair and skin health.
May promote weight loss
Some studies even suggest that butterfly pea flower may aid in weight loss efforts.
One test-tube study suggests that butterfly pea flower extract may slow the formation of fat cells by regulating certain pathways involved in cell progression.
Some older test-tube and animal studies have found that ternatins, which are found in butterfly pea flower, may also block the synthesis of fat cells in your body.
Stabilizes blood sugar levels
Studies indicate that butterfly pea flower may reduce your risk of diabetes and related symptoms.
For instance, one study in 15 men showed that drinking a beverage containing butterfly pea flower extract increased antioxidant levels and reduced blood sugar and insulin levels, despite the sugar levels in the drink.
Moreover, an animal study found that administering butterfly pea flower extract to rats with diabetes significantly reduced their blood sugar levels compared with a control group.
One study even reported that the antioxidant properties of butterfly pea flower may protect against cell damage and complications related to diabetes (4Trusted Source).
How to use butterfly pea flower
Butterfly pea flower is found in many cosmetic products, including hair mists, toners, shampoos, and face masks.
You can also use the plant to brew an herbal tea, which is known for its earthy flavor and vibrant blue color.
To make butterfly pea flower tea, also referred to as “blue tea,” simply add 1 teaspoon (4 grams) of dried flowers to 1 cup (240 mL) of hot water.
Let the tea steep for 10–15 minutes before straining out the dried flowers. Enjoy hot or served over ice.
You can also add a bit of lemon juice, lime juice, or honey to ramp up the flavor. The acidity of citrus fruits can also turn the drink a deep purple hue, thanks to the ternatins the plant naturally contains.
The bottom line
Butterfly pea flower is a common ingredient in many herbal teas, mixed drinks, and cosmetic products.
It is rich in antioxidants and may be linked to several health benefits, including increased weight loss, better blood sugar control, and improvements in hair and skin health.
It’s also versatile and associated with very few side effects, so it’s a great potential addition to your diet.
Just one thing
Try this today: In addition to using butterfly pea flower to brew a delicious herbal tea, you can use it to make other drinks, such as lattes, lemonades, and color-changing cocktails.