Blue is one of the hardest colors to find — naturally — in nature. Think about it. Aside from maybe blueberries, which aren’t really blue in the classical sense, can you think of any other plant, fruit, or vegetable that has a true blue hue?
If you’re up-to-date on food and beverage trends, you may have run into a new, blue color in your beverages. From Starbucks to your local craft cocktail bar, this blue color is showing up more and more, and it’s all related to one simple ingredient:
Butterfly Pea Flower Tea
The butterfly pea flower is native to Thailand. It has a deep, purple color that turns water blue when it’s steeped. There are studies as to the benefits of butterfly pea flower tea, with some saying it’s effective as an antiasthmatic, while others saying it’s helpful as an antioxidant. While this may be true, it’s the unique, blue color it creates that’s causing all the stir.
“We use it in a cocktail called the ‘Disco Nap,'” said Dawn Eldridge, the general manager and beverage director of Brooklyn cocktail bar, Citroën, in a recent Thrillist article. “These drinks are wildly popular with our guests for a host of reasons: It’s a stunning drink, catches the eye, and is also very enjoyable to drink.”
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A cocktail made with butterfly pea flower tea was also the recent recipient of 2018 Best Cocktails in America recognition from Restaurant Hospitality. Invented for this year’s 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, the Earth Rise contains a large format ice sphere that is made with the blue water to represent the famous image of the Earth rising over the lunar surface.
With butterfly pea flower tea, you get more than just blue, though. Cocktails popping up around the country called Mood Rings use butterfly pea flower tea, as well. When you add citrus such as a squeeze of lemon to the deep blue, it begins to turn colors into a rich violet.
Some tea shops carry butterfly pea flower, and it’s now available for purchase on Amazon. Over the last year, in large part due to its Instagramability, it’s sales have skyrocketed. According to Stefan Dorn, the owner and founder of Bluechai, a German tea vendor that carries the product, there has been a 55 percent increase in sales in the last 12 months.
“We’re working with numerous gin distilleries in the US and UK that infuse their gin with butterfly pea flowers, thereby creating an amazing blue gin,” he said.
Some cocktails containing the blue ingredient will surely wind up as signature cocktails due to their unique color profiles and color-changing experiences. Signature cocktails are a great way to help showcase a beverage program, and to capitalize on hot trends in the marketplace. Signature cocktails are also often served at higher volumes.
Consider using a draft cocktail system to serve a pre-mixed recipe that includes butterfly tea flower tea. Then, just add that touch of citrus at the end, and watch your customer’s moods change right in front of your eyes, with a Mood Ring, of course.