Why Butterfly Pea Tea is the Superdrink Your Health Routine is Missing


Butterfly pea is a Southeast Asian flower lauded for its strikingly beautiful deep blue flowers, but it is also a superdrink, that consists of antioxidants. Additionally, it shows promise for boosting weight management, blood sugar control, and even healthy hair and skin. Plus, it’s caffeine-free!

Butterfly pea flower tea, a vibrant infusion made from the Clitoria ternatea flower, boasts a rich history in Southeast Asian medicine. Traditionally used in Ayurveda, Chinese, and Thai practices, butterfly pea flower tea offers a unique earthy flavor. This caffeine-free herbal tea offers not just a stunning blue hue but transforms into deep purple with a squeeze of lemon.  

Physically, the butterfly pea plant is a perennial vine that can grow up to 10-15 feet long, featuring twining stems that enable it to climb trees or other structures. It has pinnately compound leaves with several pairs of oblong leaflets arranged along a central stalk. The plant’s vibrant blue flowers, which are typically 2 inches wide and have a yellow center, are its most striking feature. Following the flowering phase, the plant produces flat seed pods containing seeds.

Different Names of Butterfly Pea

Health benefits of butterfly pea flowers

The butterfly pea plant, with its stunning blue flowers, goes by many names! Here’s a list of some of the most common:

  • Butterfly Pea: This is the most widely used and descriptive name, referencing the flower’s resemblance to a butterfly.
  • Asian Pigeonwings: This name comes from the shape of the flower, which is said to resemble the wings of a pigeon.
  • Bluebellvine: This name refers to the vine-like nature of the plant and the color of the flowers.
  • Blue Pea: This is a straightforward name that simply describes the flower’s color.
  • Cordofan Pea: This name is less common but references the region of Cordofan in Sudan, where the plant is also found.
  • Darwin Pea: This name is named after the famous naturalist Charles Darwin, who encountered the plant on his travels.
  • Aparajita: This name is used in Ayurvedic medicine and translates to “invincible” in Sanskrit.

Chemical Compositions of Butterfly Pea

Butterfly pea flowers are rich in antioxidants and contain several phenolic compounds, including:

  • Ternatin: A polyacylated anthocyanin
  • Kaempferol
  • Quercetin
  • Myricetin
  • P-coumaric acid
  • Delphinidin-3,5-glucoside
  • Carotenoids
  • Triterpenoids
  • Cyclotides
  • Other Compounds: The butterfly pea flower also contains lesser amounts of alkaloids, and steroids


Beneficial Compounds in Butterfly Pea

butterfly pea flowers and health benefits

The butterfly pea flower is more than just a beautiful addition to your garden. Its unique chemical makeup offers a glimpse into the remarkable power of nature’s pharmacy.

One class of compounds found in butterfly pea flowers is cyclotides. They are small proteins (around 30 amino acids long) found in plants. They have a unique structure with a circular backbone and three stabilizing disulfide bonds that form a knot. This makes them very stable against heat, chemicals, and enzymes, which is good for drugs.

Because they are stable and can have various beneficial effects, including fighting HIV, stimulating uterine contractions, and killing insects. They can also enter cells, which is important for many drugs. Researchers are actively exploring the potential of cyclotides to create novel treatments for various ailments.

Another key component of the butterfly pea flower is polyacylated anthocyanins. These pigments are not only responsible for the flower’s vibrant blue hue, but they also possess a range of health-promoting properties. Studies suggest that anthocyanins may have antidiabetic, anticancer, and anti-inflammatory effects. Additionally, they may contribute to preventing cardiovascular disease and obesity.  Extracts from butterfly pea flowers containing anthocyanins are being explored for their potential use as pharmaceutical ingredients.

Carotenoids are another group of valuable compounds found in butterfly pea flowers. These colorful pigments are not merely aesthetic; they offer a variety of health benefits. Carotenoids, particularly lutein and zeaxanthin, are known to support eye health, potentially preventing age-related macular degeneration. They also act as antioxidants, protecting the body from harmful free radicals and potentially boosting the immune system.  Furthermore, carotenoids may contribute to healthy skin and even support cognitive function.

The butterfly pea flower’s chemical composition extends beyond these examples, with ongoing research exploring the potential of other compounds like flavonoids and triterpenoids.  

Traditional medicinal practices in Ayurveda have long recognized the potential health benefits of the flower, using it for memory enhancement, mood regulation, and other purposes. 

Butterfly Pea in Ayurveda

The butterfly pea flower is known as Aparajita in Ayurveda, a traditional Indian medical system, that has long recognized the power of plants for promoting health and well-being.  Among these, Aparajita finds its place as a Medhya Rasayana herb.  These herbs, also known as nootropics, are believed to enhance the brain’s cognitive functions, including memory, learning, and information processing.

Interestingly, historical evidence suggests that Aparajita’s use as a medicine dates back to the Vedic period.  While not explicitly mentioned by name in some core Ayurvedic texts like the Charaka Samhita or Sushruta Samhita, the plant is referenced through synonyms like Girikarnika and Shweta.  During this era, Aparajita appears to have been primarily used for treating poisoning and skin ailments.  However, later texts like the Nighantus specifically highlight its potential as a Medhya Rasayana herb.

 In Ayurveda, the plant is valued for its diverse properties, including its bitter, pungent, and astringent tastes. Preclinical studies have explored the pharmacological properties of the butterfly pea flower, suggesting benefits such as:

  • Diuretic: Promoting healthy urine flow.
  • Nootropic: Enhancing cognitive function, aligning with its traditional use as a Medhya Rasayana herb.
  • Anti-asthmatic: Potentially aiding in managing asthma symptoms.
  • Anti-inflammatory and analgesic: Reducing inflammation and pain.
  • Antioxidant: Protecting cells from free radical damage.
  • Wound healing: Promoting skin repair.

How to Make Butterfly Pea Tea?

butterfly pea tea

Butterfly pea tea is a beautiful and delicious beverage made from the vibrant blue flowers of the Clitoria ternatea plant. Here’s how to make a basic butterfly pea tea:


  • 4-8 Dried Butterfly Pea Flowers (around 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 cup Boiling Water
  • Honey or Sugar (to taste)
  • Lemon or Lime Juice (to taste)


  1. Steep the flowers: Place the dried butterfly pea flowers in a tea strainer or infuser, or directly into a mug if you don’t have one. Pour the boiling water over the flowers and cover the mug with a lid. Let it steep for 5-10 minutes, depending on how strong you like your tea.
  2. Strain and sweeten: Strain the tea into a cup, removing the flowers. Add honey, sugar, or your preferred sweetener to taste.
  3. Adjust the color (optional): Butterfly pea tea is naturally a beautiful blue color. But here’s the fun part: a squeeze of lemon or lime juice will change the color to a vibrant pink or purple! This is because the tea is sensitive to pH.


  • You can use fresh or dried butterfly pea flowers. Fresh flowers will require slightly less steeping time (3-5 minutes).
  • For a stronger tea concentrate, use a larger amount of flowers or steeper for a longer time. You can then dilute it with water when serving.
  • Butterfly pea tea can be enjoyed hot or iced. If making iced tea, let the hot tea cool completely before adding ice.


Consult your doctor before consuming butterfly pea tea if:

  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding: There is limited research on the safety of butterfly pea tea for pregnant or breastfeeding women.
  • You have any underlying medical conditions: Certain medical conditions or medications may interact with butterfly pea tea.
  • You are taking any medications or supplements: It’s important to check for potential interactions with your doctor.
  • You experience any adverse effects: If you experience nausea, diarrhea, stomach pain, or other side effects after drinking butterfly pea tea, discontinue consumption and consult your doctor.


Oguis, G. K., Gilding, E. K., Jackson, M. A., & Craik, D. J. (2019). From defense to development: Phenolic signals in plant-rhizobia interactions. Molecules, 24(12), 2252 PMC6546959

Lamy, S., Blanchette, M., Michaud-Levesque, J., Lafleur, R., Durocher, Y., Moghrabi, A., Barrette, S., Gingras, D., & Béliveau, R. (2006). Delphinidin, a dietary anthocyanidin, inhibits vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-2 phosphorylation. Carcinogenesis, 27(5), 989-996.


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