Butterfly pea flowers are blossoms of the butterfly pea plant, also referred to as blue butterfly pea, Asian pigeonwings, and blue pea, and botanically known as clitoria ternatea. The plant’s genus name, clitoria, is derived from a Greek word, kreitoris, which refers to the shape of the flower resembling the female genitalia.
[Note: The Right Flowers is not a medical site. Knowledge of and information about the therapeutic benefits and applications of flowers, while known through the ages, does not constitute medical advice. If you are having health issues, you should consult with a physician.]
The butterfly pea plant is a perennial twining vine, not climbing vine, with trifoliate leaves. The plant prefers to grow in rocky, dry woods. In summer, it produces large, bright blue and purple-blue flowers. Butterfly pea flowers have the characteristic banner wings of blossoms in the pea family, however, unlike other plants in this family, it’s banners are extra large.
While the plant has a name that associates it to a butterfly, it is rarely visited by these insects for pollination. Rather the flower is linked to a butterfly due to it’s expanded petals which resemble the insect with outspread wings.
The blue pea plant is native to Asia and belongs to the fabaceae family. Its deep blue flowers have been used for years to cook, dye and make cosmetics. Traditionally, the flowers have been used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine to help calm nerves and boost memory.
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The primary reason blue butterfly pea flowers are famous the world over is due to a tisane or infusion which is commonly known as blue tea, derived from the blossoms. The tisane is popular in Asian countries but with the recent drive for alternative cures, it has started gaining popularity in western countries.
The tea is made by infusing the petals in hot water for several minutes to allow the blossoms to yield their medicinal compounds and color to the brew. In its purest form, the tisane has a deep blue color but can turn to other colors when other ingredients such as lemon are added to it. The blue tea is popularly used to create a mood cocktail which is made by adding ice cubes or lemon to create rings with different colors in the tea as the ingredients diffuse.
Blue tea is a popular super drink as it is associated with various health benefits. The tisane is known to have weight loss, immune-enhancing qualities, relaxing, analgesic, anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, and cognitive boosting effects. These qualities explain why the tisane is fondly known as the elixir for youth and vigor.
Blue butterfly pea flower tea is also a great, refreshing beverage for afternoon tea parties and after dinner, and is commonly enjoyed in spas. Apart from being a refreshing beverage, blue tea is used in rice dishes to produce blue-colored rice. The colored dishes are commonly eaten with salads, fish, fried duck, and pickles.
Now, if you are looking for a super tisane to give you a health boost, complete with colorful effects, its time to grow butterfly pea or order some blossoms from a specialty store.