It's mesmerising, it's magical and it's blue - forget what you thought about blue food because this flower is about to change all that.
Where does it stem from? The butterfly pea flower, clitoria termatea, Asian pigeonwings, butterfly pea, blue pea – it’s all one and the same. While this bloom might not mean much to some of you... yet, its vibrant colour has been making its presence known in foods and on menus across the world.
It’s difficult to describe just how its colour-changing qualities work, basically, it's to do with its pH levels being altered when liquid is added, better yet let us show you in visuals how in an instant this cobalt blue glowstick comes alive.
This bloom is native to Southeast Asia and in its simplest form is brewed into a caffeine-free herbal tea. Natural living author and floral enthusiast, Rebecca Sullivan says, "simply steep a big handful of the flowers in hot water for five minutes, strain and then add raw honey to taste. I definitely recommend drying them out in season and keeping them in a sealed jar for use all-year round." Served hot or cold, it is a great mixer and entertainer and is like a blue-coloured version of chamomile tea.
While it looks like a syrupy-sweet syrupy poolside cocktail or a melted gummi bear, it’s actually far from it. Its earthy taste is similar to an unsweetened green tea and it is usually accompanied with lemon or lime and in some cases lemongrass, ginger or a little palm sugar. What is also quite mysterious is that when citrus is added it changes colour again from blue to a more purple-violet hue and this is one way to add a little magic when entertaining a cocktail crowd. Australia is also home to the world's first blue gin thanks to ink gin.
Very popular and prominent throughout Asia in drinks, but it's more than that; it's also a natural food colouring for sticky desserts, puddings and cakes as well as a natural dye for clothes - and you can also add mixers to the brew. On social media you can see it in cakes, puddings, smoothie bowls, in ice-cream, you name it, it probably comes in a blue pea flavour.
What is even more enthralling about this periwinkle bloom is that, like green tea, it is rich in antioxidants and there have been studies showcasing its anti-ageing abilities as well as its ability to fight against and reduce inflammation as well as a natural pain relief. For centuries, the roots, leaves and stems of the blue pea have been frequently used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine with a wide range of health benefits - it is said to be a brain booster and good for your eye health and a natural support to the digestive, circulatory and central nervous systems.
Even though it holds major health benefits, excessive drinking is not recommended and pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers should consult their doctor before consuming or avoid consumption altogether.
You can purchase blue pea online and at speciality tea and health food stores.
This week on Luke Nguyen's Food Trail watch as Luke wields those bluey hues in a cracking pork and prawn purple noodle dish. Tune in 8pm, Thursdays on SBS and then you can catch-up on SBS On Demand. Visit the program page for recipes, videos and more.
If you haven't ventured into blue pea flower territory then these dumplings are a vibrant way to jazz up your steamy offering.