Butterfly Pea Simple Syrup Recipe

By Timo Torner / Last updated on July 23, 2023

Butterfly pea flower syrup is a brilliant way to add color and a little magic to your mixed drinks. The dark blue floral syrup reacts with acidic elements, which turn the deep blue liquid into a bright pink.
Butterfly pea syrup recipe

Color-changing cocktails have been taking over social media by storm. Seeing a dark blue colored cocktail turning bright pink doesn't cease to fascinate people.

This Butterfly pea simple syrup is dark blue in its natural color and sweet and slightly floral in taste. It's an excellent way to sweeten and color cocktails or non-alcoholic drinks like soda water or citrus juices.

Butterfly Pea Flower simple syrup with flowers, lemon, and sugar in background

Butterfly Pea Syrup Recipe

Prep Time: 2 minutes
Shaking time10 minutes
Resting time: 25 minutes
Course: Drinks
Keyword: Butterfly Pea

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Water
  • 1 cup White granulated sugar
  • 10 - 15 pcs Dried butterfly pea flowers

Instructions

  • Add water to a pot and turn on medium heat and bring it to a boil.
    1 cup Water
  • Add sugar and stir until it has dissolved completely.
    1 cup White granulated sugar
  • Add flowers and turn off the heat and let the flowers infuse and cool down.
    10 - 15 pcs Dried butterfly pea flowers
  • Pour the cooled-down syrup into a jar or syrup bottle and filter out any residue of the flowers with the help of a fine-mesh strainer or, even better, with a tea filter bag. 
  • Keep the syrup refrigerated until you want to use it. 
  • Enjoy your homemade color-changing drinks. 
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

About the Ingredients

To make this colorful simple syrup, you only need two ingredients. One of them can be a little bit pricey, though:

  • Butterfly pea flowers - Dried butterfly pea flower is often used for making tea. You can find it in Asian supermarkets or order some online. Alternatively, you can also use fresh flowers or use powder extract.
  • Sugar - Regular caster or granulated sugar is our preferred choice, which is also what we use to make regular simple syrup. It's affordable and neutral - and that's what we need with the subtle floral notes of butterfly peas.

What is Butterfly Pea Flower?

The scientifically correct name for the butterfly pea is Clitoria ternatea. Its origin is in Asia, where it is also known as Asian pigeonwings or blue peas. 

Over the years, the name butterfly pea became more common as it surely is the most catchy one. In Southeast Asia, butterfly pea has been used for brewing tea and as a natural food coloring for a long time. In India, it is even considered a holy flower. Hindi often use it for offerings to an image of a god, the so-called puja rituals. 

Dried and fresh butterfly pea flowers on white background

Health benefits

Besides being a mood enhancer, the butterfly pea flower provides several other health benefits. For instance, stress relief, lower anxiety, reduced fatigue, and raised energy levels. [1]

Due to its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties, Spas and massage parlors often serve tea from the blue flower after a treatment.

How does it taste?

Butterfly pea flower simple syrup is often used in tea or syrup. It has a very subtle yet earthy flavor with wooden notes, similar to green teas. Overall, it's relatively neutral and won't affect the taste of your drink overly much.

Why does it change color?

The color-changing effect of Butterfly pea flower syrup is caused by changing the pH. By adding acidic ingredients, like citrus juice, to cocktails, lemonade, to tea made with butterfly peas, they will change their color from dark blue to pink.

But you can also achieve other shades. Depending on the pH, the color can range from pink, violet, blue, and green to yellow. [2

For those interested in chemistry, the blue color indicates a pH of 7. By increasing the acidic level, the color will turn to violet at pH 4, and ultimately pink at pH 1. 

If you do not increase the acidity but create o more alkaline solutions, the color can turn green at pH 8 and yellow at pH 11. You won't see butterfly pea drinks in green or yellow because the necessary alkaline solutions are almost impossible to achieve with edible ingredients.

Color-changing, Non-alcoholic drink made with butterfly pea simple syrup

Butterfly Pea syrup in drinks

In cocktails, you can use it as an alternative to simple syrup. That won't affect the overall flavor of your drink, but it will add an interesting color effect to it. 

Used in an acidic drink like a Gin Sour cocktail, it turns bright pink. If you use it to sweeten an Old Fashioned, the tint will remain dark blue to purple due to the lack of acid.

In Northern Thailand, they have a traditional recipe called Nam Dok Anchan: butterfly pea flower tea mixed with honey and (usually) a lemon on the side. [3]

More floral syrups

Frequently asked questions

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