I've long been wary of blue foods. I think this has something to do with the fact that years ago my Mom pronounced that blue, when used in Christmas cookies (or in any Christmas decor for that matter) was basically sacrilegious. Later in 1995, Mars Inc. did something unimaginable and deemed the tan M&M to be redundant (because they already had brown and orange coated chocolate candies) so they launched a campaign to let America choose the replacement color by calling 1-800-FUN-COLOR and selecting either pink, purple or blue. Now we all know what can happen when the junk food consuming masses are left to make such weighty decisions. Well folks, 10 million Americans phoned in and blue prevailed, and just like that the groovy autumnal aesthetic of M&Ms was dashed in an instant. How could we have let this happen!? Even ET knew that earth-toned candies are to be preferred.
Well, over 20 years have have gone by and it seems blue M&Ms are here to stay. Last December my Mom calls me to say that for the first time in her life she'd purchased an artificial Christmas tree! Wait, whaat!? And not only that, the color scheme for her new ornaments is blue and white. Sacré Bleu! Turns out, her abhorrence to blue Christmas was in fact her Mom's personal taste, not hers... blame it on Tutu again!
While I'm certainly not ready to go with a faux tree myself, maybe the time has come for me to relax my aversion to blue foods in general? After all it is 2017, and I've been know to blend-and-gram' a smoothie bowl or two, mythical enough to make Lisa Frank herself proud.
So when Buzzfeed Nifty posted this video of a magically blue color-changing tea set to a Stranger Things-esque theme song, I thought to myself, could butterfly pea flower tea be the stargate between my tan-M&M-loving-childhood, and a whole new galaxy of colorfully diverse and unorthodox ingredients?
The answer my friends is... why YES indeed, and let this tea be your gateway drug. If suddenly you do get super weirded out by the fact that the tea you just made resembles Windex, simply stir in some citrus and it will turn a lovely shade of lavender. Like for real... you should try this at home right away. Also if you aren't convinced yet, apparently the actual butterfly pea flowers have the shape of human female genitalia while fresh on the vine, hence the Latin name of the genus "clitoria." So there's that... and purportedly this tea also is rich in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties. However, I cannot attest to these claims as of yet.
Color-Changing Lavender Lemonade with Butterfly Pea Flower Tea
for the Tea...
makes about 1.2 liters
1 tablespoon dried culinary lavender buds
1 tablespoon dried culinary butterfly pea flowers
5 cups filtered water
Place both the lavender buds and the butterfly pea flowers into a tea infuser or a cheesecloth pouch and seal. Fill a pitcher with the filtered water and dunk in the tea infuser letting it bob in and out a few times to wet the flowers. Place in a warm sunny location and steep until desired intensity of blue is achieved. I went for about an hour. Alternatively you may also bring the water to boil on the stovetop and steep your tea for 3 - 8 minutes. Remove the infuser and allow to cool completely.
for the Lemonade...
makes about 1.2 liters
4 lemons, juiced (about 2/3 cup)
5 cups filtered water
6 tablespoons honey or other sweetener of your choice, to taste
ice for serving
Combine the lemon, water, and honey in a glass pitcher. Stir well with a long wooden spoon until the honey is fully incorporated.
To create the layered beverage begin by selecting an old fashioned glass or other low tumbler and add several large ice cubes. Fill the glass half full with lemonade. To add the tea layer, hold an upside down spoon (concave side down) in the glass and slightly above the lemonade layer. Slowly pour the tea over the back of the spoon to create the layered effect. Add a straw and a sprig of lavender as a garnish. Serve! Once the tea and lemonade get stirred together be amazed as the beverage turns a striking shade of purple violet.
I highly recommend experimenting with varying steep times and different ratios of tea to citrus to achieve unique shades of blue, yellow, pink, rose and purple. For example this batch (as opposed to the previous pictured) steeped for longer and had more lemonade than tea.