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

Butterfly Pea Flower Simple Syrup Recipe

By Timo Torner / Last updated on November 11, 2022

First published on May 26, 2021 

Butterfly pea flower syrup is a brilliant way to add color to your mixed drinks. The dark blue floral syrup reacts with acidic elements turning bright pink, turning your cocktail into something magical.

Color-changing cocktails have been taking over social media by storm. Seeing a dark blue colored cocktail turning bright pink is quite impressive to witness.

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

Jump to Recipe | Butterfly Pea Flower | Ingredients | How to make it | Health benefits | Taste | Butterfly Pea Syrup in Drinks | The Change of Color | More Syrups | FAQs

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. And I also find it the most catchy one, which is why I stick to that term. In Southeast Asia, butterfly pea has been used for brewing tea and as a natural food coloring for a long time already. 

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. So what is the secret that makes this flower so famous?

Ingredients

To make this colorful simple syrup, you only need two ingredients. One of them can be harder to get, 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 sugar is my preferred choice; this is also what I use to make my simple syrup. 
Dried and fresh butterfly pea flowers on white background

How to make Butterfly Pea Syrup

To make this tasty syrup, you only need to follow a few easy steps.

Step 1: Add water to a pot and heat until the water boils.

Step 2: Once the water starts boiling, add sugar and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.

Step 3: Remove the pot from the heat and add the butterfly pea flowers. Stir briefly, and then let the flowers infuse.

Step 4: Once the syrup cooled down to room temperature, strain the syrup into bottles. Then store the syrup in the fridge.

Health benefits

Besides being a mood enhancer, the butterfly pea flower provides several 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.

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 it bright pink. If you use it to sweeten an Old Fashioned, the tint will be dark blue to purple.

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

In Northern Thailand, they have a recipe called Nam Dok Anchan: butterfly pea flower tea mixed with honey and (usually) a lemon on the side. [2]

This tea can be served hot or cold and is quite common as a welcome drink in hotels. It's also often served after relaxing Thai massages.

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. [3

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.

More floral syrups

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

Butterfly Pea Flower simple syrup

Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 10 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.
  • Add sugar and stir until it has dissolved completely.
  • Add flowers and turn off the heat and let the flowers infuse and cool down.
  • 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!

Frequently asked questions

What does butterfly pea syrup taste like?

Butterfly pea simple syrup has a very subtle yet earthy flavor with wooden notes, similar to green teas and matcha without bitter notes.

What is the butterfly pea flower used for?

Butterfly pea flower is often used in tea or in mixed drinks. It's either infused into a base or used in form of simple syrup.

What is butterfly pea flower syrup?

It's a sweet and floral syrup of dark blue color. It can change in color depending on the ingredients you mix it with.

What are the side effects of butterfly pea flowers?

There can be side effects as it can interfere with certain medications, just like many other herbal teas. Besides this, the main issues include stomach issues and nausea.

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