A color-changing layered matcha lemonade made with butterfly pea flower tea that turns blue to purple.
Starbucks recently launched a layered cold brew drink that changes color BUT it’s only available in Asia.
The color-changing part of the drink is from butterfly pea flowers. The flowers are a vibrant deep blue when steeped in hot water but when lemon is added, it changes color to a jewel-tone purple.
Starbucks tops their drink with coffee but I topped off my drink with matcha, because of course I did.
What is Butterfly Pea Tea?
Butterfly pea flowers comes from a plant from Southeast Asia and it’s been used there for centuries to add a bright blue color to food like rice and noodles and for drinking as an infusion.
The above photo is what the butterfly pea flowers look like. The petals are dark blue with a tinge of purple.
To make butterfly pea tea, the flowers are steeped in hot water to create a vibrant blue color. Honey or sweeteners can be added and it can be prepared hot and cold.
Butterfly pea tea isn’t technically a tea, but an infusion. For something to be a true tea, the leaves must come from a different plant, the camellia sinensis. Only leaves from the camellia sinensis is real tea.
Instead, butterfly pea tea is tea in the loosest sense of the word in that it’s an infusion of flavors into water.
What Makes Butterfly Pea Tea Special?
The flavor of the butterfly pea tea does nothing for me. It really doesn’t taste like much but what makes it so special is its color changing abilities.
When an acid like lemon juice is added to butterfly pea tea, the color changes from blue to purple. It’s like a fun magic trick.
The more lemon juice is added, the more purple the tea will become.
Where to Buy Butterfly Pea Flower Tea
I bought two different brands and they looked and tasted identical.
Be aware that most butterfly pea tea sold is mixed with lemongrass. I didn’t want the lemongrass flavor for this recipe so I made sure to buy just the butterfly pea flowers.
Check the ingredient list to make sure lemongrass isn’t included if you’re using it for this recipe.
If you want easy to use butterfly pea flowers in tea bags, they sell those too. I’ve used them and they’re easier to use than the loose flowers.
What Does Butterfly Pea Tea Taste Like?
It tastes a bit earthy, almost woody. It’s not a really pleasant taste that makes me want to drink it on its own. This also explains why they sell butterfly pea tea with lemongrass to add a bit of a different flavor.
For this recipe, the matcha and the lemonade are the dominant flavors and masks the butterfly pea tea flavor.
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What I Used to Make Matcha Butterfly Pea Flower Lemonade
Get a bright green matcha in the $15-$30 range regardless of whether it’s labeled ceremonial or culinary grade. If you don’t want to spend too much, get this lower grade matcha.
- Butterfly pea flowers
- Strainer to filter out the flowers.
- Teapot to steep the flowers in.
- Sugar, a lemon, and water to make the lemonade.
- Citrus juicer
- Saucepan with a spout to make the simple syrup.
- Wide-mouth water bottle
- Glass cups
- Ice cube tray
There are three parts to this drink (lemonade, butterfly tea, and matcha) and each is made separately then assembled to create the layered and color changing effect.
The first part of the recipe is the lemonade, which will change the color of the tea from blue to purple.
It’s just making a simple syrup of sugar and water then adding in lemon juice. Since this part requires a stovetop, make this first since you want the lemonade to cool down a bit.
The lemonade can be made ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator.
How to Make Butterfly Pea Flower Tea
The second part of this recipe is to make the butterfly pea tea.
To make the tea, you just need to steep the butterfly pea flowers in hot water for about 5 minutes. The longer you steep, the darker the blue the tea will get.
I wanted a really deep blue color so I added 2 teaspoons of the butterfly pea flower to a cup of water.
The tea will be hot, so give it time for it to cool.
The butterfly pea tea can also be made ahead of time and stored and chilled in the refrigerator with the lemonade.
How to Make Matcha for Iced Drinks
When I first used to make iced matcha drinks, I used to use the traditional method of preparing matcha using a matcha bowl and bamboo whisk.
I WAS DOING IT WRONG.
I have a much easier and better method of making matcha for cold drinks that has been a game-changer.
Take a wide-mouth water bottle and pour in cold water, then matcha. Tighten the lid and give it a good 10 second shake. Done.
Really? Yes, really.
No clumps and you don’t need to wait for the matcha to cool.
How to Make Matcha Butterfly Pea Flower Lemonade
After the lemonade, butterfly pea tea and the matcha have been made, it’s time to build the drink!
I’m going for the layered effect with the butterfly pea tea at the bottom and the matcha sitting on top.
First, I pour in the butterfly pea flower tea in a cup with ice. It’s such a pretty blue. Fill the tea about a third of the cup.
Next, the lemonade goes in. You can see the color start to shift from blue to purple.
Add enough lemonade to fill 2/3 of the cup.
Once the lemonade goes in, there’s hardly any blue left.
And finally, the matcha layer.
The jewel tones are gorgeous together.
Who knew purple and green would be such a pretty combo? Uhh, me, that’s who. Ha.
Matcha Butterfly Pea Flower Lemonade Tips
- Sugar is the key in keeping the bottom layer and the top layer separate.
- When ready to drink, make sure you mix the layers together so you can get the sweet and sourness from the lemonade with the matcha.
- Don’t use boiling hot water for the flowers or the matcha. The water should be hot, but not full boil hot.
- The lemonade and the butterfly pea tea can be made in advance and kept in the refrigerator but don’t make the matcha ahead of time.
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