Color-Changing Butterfly Pea Flower Mojitos are an awe-inspiring cocktail that WOWs with the power of food magic – and science!
The naturally vibrant color comes from a mix of butterfly pea flower, lime and mint. An updated mojito recipe that’s also perfect to serve as a mocktail – simply tea and limeade!
Butterfly pea flowers
I was first introduced to the awe-inspiring effects of butterfly pea flowers years ago by a work friend who knew how much I love weird food things. Watching the color of my tea change from rich blue to bright magenta before my eyes thanks to a squeeze of lemon had me in awe.
And apparently, there’s even more to love about butterfly pea flower than just the visual effects! With a long list of anti-inflammatory, and anti-oxidative health benefit claims ranging from the treatment of hair problems, skin diseases, headache and indigestion, it’s a still relatively undiscovered power food. Even traditionally being used as an ancient Ayurvedic memory-enhancing, stress-reducing, antidepressant-like brain tonic. *
Butterfly pea is a wildflower vine native to tropical Asia when expanded, the flowers resemble a butterfly. But it’s actual name Clitoria ternatea came from it’s resemblance to something else entirely 😉 Throughout Southeast Asia it’s commonly used to make food magic in everything from noodles to candies.
I have been meaning to share butterfly pea flower with you ever since I first learned about it. But developing a visually stunning recipe with a foolproof method and amazing flavor took time and wasn’t ready. Until now!
This Magic Color-Changing Mojito Tea is simply made by combining iced butterfly flower tea with rum and homemade limeade.
Or make it a mocktail and leave out the rum for a modern take on a traditional Arnold Palmer that’s as easy as squeezing limes and steeping tea. With an awe-inspiring end result! That’s perfectly appropriate for science events, fairy parties and magical themed birthdays. Use as a recipe to trick your family on April Fool’s Day. Or appropriate for the the leprechaun leaves it as a surprise drink on St Patrick’s Day. No matter how you serve it, it’s so much food science fun!
How it works
This natural color changing magic works because of pigments known as anthocyanins that change color based on the acidity of their environment.
Commonly found in fruits, vegetables and flowers, like blueberries, red cabbage, hydrangeas and butterfly pea flowers these anthocyanins, along with acidity, make food magic naturally! With different color variations depending on the source of the anthocyanin and the acid used to activate the color-changing magic.
- Butterfly pea flowers – you can buy butterfly pea flowers bulk on Amazon to mix your own tea blends. Or find premade butterfly pea flower tea or crushed butterfly pea flower powder also online.
- Fresh mint leaves – mint tea can be substituted for ease or if fresh/dried mint is unavailable. Just make sure to be mindful of what else it is blended with and avoid green tea blends as green tea is slightly alkaline and will effect the overall color.
- Lime juice- the most acidic of all citrus fruits, lime juice and limeade will result in the most dramatic change.
- Granulated sugar or raw sugar sweetens the tea before it cools. Feel free to substitute your favorite sweetener instead – bar syrup, stevia, honey, etc.
- Rum – clear white rum is the standard liquor of choice for classic mojitos. It also happens to typically be a bit acidic. Feel free to leave out for a mocktail, or substitute with vodka.
Step by step instructions
- Combine hot water with butterfly pea flowers, mint leaves and sugar to make butterfly pea flower tea concentrate. Steep for 5 minutes then strain through a fine mesh strainer into a large pitcher filled with ice to cool.
- Meanwhile, make unsweetened limeade by mixing fresh lime juice with 5 cups of water.
- Then, pour tea into a tall glass.
- Pour an ounce of rum over ice into each glass, stir.
- Top with limeade.
- Stir with a spoon or straw.
- Watch the magic happen!
- Make it a mocktail and leave out the rum!
- Layer it – add a hefty amount of simple syrup or corn syrup to the bottom tea layer and carefully pour the limeade, slowly, over the back of a spoon to maintain separate layers.
- Any acidic liquid will activate the magic! Any liquid with a low pH, that is! The pH scale is a measure of how acidic or basic something is, ranging from 0 – 14. The lower the number on the pH scale, the more acidic. And the higher the number, the more basic or ‘alkaline’. With a measure of 7, right down the middle, being completely neutral. Lemon and limes have a pH of around 2-3 while oranges, grapefruits, pineapples, peaches, pears, strawberries and blueberries are all slightly less acidic with a range from 3-5. Kombucha is acidic, with a pH of around 3, because the main bacteria creates acetic acid through from the fermentation process. Seltzer (“soda water/sparkling water”) is acidic with a pH of 3-4. Just don’t choose club soda because it is an entirely different product all together and the sodium makes alkaline. White wine and St Germain are also slightly acidic with pH between 3-4 – a great option for a color-changing wine spritzer.
- Make it a creamy spiked iced latte. A pour of milk or cream turn this mojito tea mocktail into a deliciously creamy mojito tea latte like the Raspberry Black Tea and Blackberry Earl Grey Iced Tea Lattes. And bonus! It also expands the color options into beautiful pastels.
- 2 tablespoons butterfly pea flowers
- 2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves or 2 herbal mint tea bags
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup fresh lime juice from about 5-7 medium limes
- 8 ounces white rum
- Bring 4 cups of water to boil. Meanwhile, place mint leaves and butterfly pea flowers in large bowl with sugar. When hot pour water over and steep. Set a timer for 5 minutes.
- Place 4 cups of ice in a large pitcher and after 5 minutes strain cobalt blue sweet tea concentrate over ice to cool.
- Meanwhile, make unsweetened limeade by mixing fresh lime juice with 5 cups of water. Place in refrigerator to cool.
- Pour tea over ice in tall glass, add rum (if desired), stir and top with limeade. Serve with a spoon or straw and watch the magic happen!
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