Drinking tea is a tradition in many cultures. In addition, who doesn’t enjoy drinking tea on a cold day or after a busy day. There are so many types of tea to choose from, the most popular ones being green, black, oolong, ginger, white, rooibos, and herbal.
If you are new to tea drinking, you may not be familiar with unique tea varieties like butterfly pea flower tea. That said, once you familiarize yourself with it, you will likely not forget it because of its mesmerizing change of color.
Butterfly pea flower tea can change from its deep blue color when you add water to a rich violet color if you add lemon. As a result, it has also been dubbed blue tea. In this article, we dig deep to understand better where and how this tea is made, its nutrients, possible benefits and side effects. Take a look.
What Is Butterfly Flower Tea?
It is made from the perennial leguminous herb Clitoria ternatea, or as it is best-known as the butterfly pea (2). This perennial herbaceous plant belongs to the Fabaceae family. It has long been cultivated as a forage and fodder crop.
That said, it has attracted significant interest over the years after researchers have discovered its agricultural and medical applications. Butterfly pea products can be used in food colorings, cosmetics, traditional medicine, or eco-friendly insecticide (2). Over time, the butterfly pea has gained use as a tea and in cocktails.
Butterfly Pea Flower Tea Nutrients
Unlike most tea varieties, butterfly pea flower tea caffeine content is zero. This makes it an excellent drink of choice if you are looking for a tea variety without caffeine. This tea is loaded with antioxidants such as kaempferol and p-Coumaric acid. It also contains vitamins E, A, and C.
Butterfly Pea Flower Tea Health Benefits
Some people drink this tea out of curiosity for the color change. On the other hand, others consume it due to its rich flavors. Perhaps such people are unfamiliar with its extensive list of health benefits. Drinking blue tea has been linked to several possible health benefits. Some of the potential blue butterfly pea flower tea health benefits include:
Packed With Antioxidants
Drinking this tea floods your body with antioxidants or, as they are also known, free-radical scavengers. These substances are best known for fighting free radicals in your body, hence the name free-radical scavengers. However, they also play other significant roles in your body, including (5):
Reducing Disease Risk
Antioxidants are also known as free-radical scavengers because they prevent damage to your cells from free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules produced by your body in response to environment or other pressures, or as a waste product of normal cell processes (5).
If your body cannot remove these substances, you experience oxidative stress. According to Medical News Today, excess oxidative stress has been linked to cancer, stroke, respiratory diseases, heart disease, Parkinson’s diseases, arthritis and immune deficiency (5). It is also associated with emphysema and other ischemic and inflammatory diseases (5).
Antioxidants also help in reducing inflammation. Inflammation is sometimes a comprehensive response to an injury or foreign organism in your body (6). This response is divided into chronic and acute depending on the inflammatory process and cellular mechanism (6).
Recent studies acknowledge that chronic inflammation is a significant factor in the progression of several chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart diseases, obesity, and many more (6). Again, researchers reveal that free radicals from various biological processes can cause tissue damage which further contributes to various inflammatory associated diseases (6).
Since antioxidants help fight these free radicals which can cause tissue damage, it is possible that they help reduce inflammation which is in response to that damage. In that way, drinking butterfly flower pea tea might help ease inflammation.
Improving Mental Health
Free radicals sometimes attack the hippocampus part of your brain. The hippocampus has a significant role in learning and memory. This means when the free radicals attack this area, they disrupt these functions. Drinking butterfly pea flower tea might help improve brain function and mental health by preventing such problems.
Similarly, this tea is also said to boost mental health because it enhances your mood, calms, and soothes you, possibly just due to the calming ritual of drinking tea or another warm beverage. It might explain why people drink this tea after a long, rough and strenuous day.
May Reduce Risk of Several Health Conditions
Drinking purple butterfly pea flower tea might also help reduce your risk of various conditions because of its vitamin E content. According to Medical News Today, vitamin E is associated with reduced risk of (7):
- Coronary Heart Disease. Experts reveal that vitamin E inhibits the formation of LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol and prevents the formation of blood clots. These are among the risk factors of coronary heart disease.
- Eye Disorders. This vitamin helps prevent age-related macular degeneration and other eye disorders.
- Cancer. Medical News Today also reveals that vitamin E has antioxidants and immune-modulating properties that may help prevent cancer (7).
- Chronic Conditions. Drinking this tea can also reduce the risk of chronic conditions due to vitamin E content. Experts reveal that this vitamin is antioxidant which may help prevent or delay the onset of chronic conditions that are linked to reactive oxygen species molecules (7).
- Inflammation. Vitamin E also prevents inflammation and supports immune function.
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May Help Promote Weight Loss
Of course, many people are curious to know if butterfly pea flower tea can promote weight loss. Unfortunately butterfly pea flower tea may not be your to-go-to tea if you want to shed pounds.
For one, it has no caffeine. Although it may seem like a good thing, it may also be disadvantageous because caffeine means an extra energy boost. When your energy levels are high, you can be more active and burn more calories.
Secondly, there is no sufficient evidence to back up the running theory that drinking this tea can promote weight loss. Although some studies reveal that the tea contains ternatins that may promote fat loss, more research is needed to determine its impact (1).
May Help Manage Diabetes
Early studies also reveal that the herb Clitoria ternatea from which butterfly pea flower tea comes may have anti-diabetic properties (4). To determine if this tea can help manage diabetes, researchers conducted an animal study in 2015 to assess the effect of this tea on blood sugar levels.
The study findings revealed that the rats administered butterfly pea flower tea had a significant drop in their blood sugar levels (4). Drawing from these findings, the researchers concluded the tea could potentially help manage diabetes in humans by stabilizing or reducing blood sugar levels.
Remember that no human study has been conducted to back up this animal study. Again, you do not know the effect of long-term drinking butterfly pea flower tea on your blood sugar levels. So, seek consultation first.
Improves Skin and Hair Health
Drinking butterfly pea flower tea can also improve hair and skin health, so it is not surprising that it is used to make cosmetic products. Experts reveal that Clitoria ternatea L., better known as butterfly pea, has ernatin anthocyanins, A1-A3, B1-B4, C1 C4 and D1-D3 that may promote skin and hair health due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties (3).
Additionally, they also reveal that tea contains antioxidants and the phenolic compounds quercetin and kaempferol derivatives that promote hair and skin health (3).
Butterfly Pea Flower Tea Side Effects
There might be some drawbacks to consuming too much butterfly pea flower tea. First, if you do not drink this tea in moderation, you may experience nausea, diarrhea, and stomach pain. Although research is still lacking to establish these side effects, it would be best if you generally consumed it in moderation.
Likewise, because of the lack of sufficient research on this tea, it is hard to tell who can and cannot consume it (3).
Let your doctor know if you are pregnant or have underlying medical conditions. Some conditions or medications may interact with this tea causing adverse effects. Similarly, let your doctor know if you are also taking any supplements or other herbal products.
The Bottom Line
Butterfly pea flower tea is made from the leguminous herb Clitoria ternatea. It is simply made by adding a handful of these flowers to hot water. If you add lemon or any citrus ingredient like lime juice, the tea turns blue, giving it the name blue tea.
The tea has no caffeine but is packed with antioxidants that may reduce disease risk. Drinking blue tea might also improve hair and skin health, manage diabetes, have a calming effect, and promote weight loss. However, drinking too much can result in nausea, stomach pain and diarrhea. With this in mind, talk to your doctor before adding this tea to your diet plan.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on for decision-making. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- (-)-Ternatin inhibits adipogenesis and lipid metabolism in 3T3-L1 cells (2009, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Butterfly Pea (Clitoria ternatea), a Cyclotide-Bearing Plant With Applications in Agriculture and Medicine (2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Cosmetic and Dermatological Properties of Selected Ayurvedic Plant Extracts (2021, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Evaluation of Anti-oxidant and Anti-diabetic Activity of Flower Extract of Clitoria ternatea L (2015, japsonline.com)
- How can antioxidants benefit our health? (2018, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Role of Antioxidants and Natural Products in Inflammation (2016, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- What to know about vitamin E (2021, medicalnewstoday.com)