Ice cold, brimming with coconut flavor and eye-popping color, this Coconut Butterfly Pea Flower Boba Tea is summer’s best refresher!
I’ve been so eager to try butterfly pea flower tea for months now, but I didn’t know where to start. I’ve seen it used by pastry chefs in cakes and mousses with beautiful (naturally blue!) results. However, since I’m a butterfly pea flower tea newbie, I started with its intended purpose. Which is herbal tea. Paired with sweet coconut milk and boba (bubble) tea pearls, it makes a lovely sippable dessert.
A magic ingredient.
The butterfly pea flower plant is native to most South East Asian countries, but has only recently been introduced outside its natural territory. You won’t find it at the grocery store (but I hear Whole Foods is trying to procure some). Instead you’ll have to purchase it online. Aside from being used for tea or as a food ingredient, it’s been used as a popular plant dye for centuries. One of the neatest things about the tea is its color-changing properties. In its brewed state it is vibrant blue. Change the pH level with a little lemon juice and it turns bright purple!
Wow! SO pretty. The brewed tea has a slightly wheat-y flavor that I think has the aroma of whole grain cereal. Other people have described it as earthy and grassy, but it’s not as assertive as, say, matcha green tea (which is my measuring stick for ‘earthy and grassy’). It’s so light, and hides itself behind other bolder flavors easily.
You may remember my first boba tea post (here) from years ago. For those uninitiated, “Bubble tea” or boba originated in Taiwan in the 1980’s. It first came to the states through Asian American communities. Now boba enthusiasts are everywhere! (Including right here, hi!). Reportedly, boba tea shops are in the midst of a boba shortage due to supply chain issues, but smaller packages seem to still be available for purchase online. However, if your local bubble tea shop is experiencing a shortage, you can still support them by purchasing their other menu items. It’s the least we can do to keep these shops alive and well!
So. The very first order of business is cooking up some boba. You can usually find a small bag at international markets and online. This is the kind I used, which cooks quickly. Use the 5-minute variety for this recipe.
Next, brew up the tea. Let it stand for about 10 minutes. It will go through several beautiful color intensities as it steeps. You’ll know it’s ready when the color is deep sapphire blue.
Strain the flowers out and press with the back of a spoon to remove as much liquid as possible. Let it cool down before you use it.
Next – the sweetest part! Combine coconut milk and sweetened condensed milk in a glass measure. Whisk together until no lumps of coconut milk solids remain.
The serving size of this recipe is variable depending on your glass size. Poured in 12 oz. glasses you’ll get about 5 servings. Layer in as much boba as you’d like (I like a lot!) and fill each glass about 1/3 of the way up with the milk mixture. Fill up the glass to the top with crushed ice.
Pour in the steeped tea to the top of the glass. The milk and tea will slightly swirl and intermingle but they’ll stay mostly separated because the sweetened milk mixture is heavier than the tea. They’ll stay beautifully semi-swirled until you decide it’s time to mix it all up!
This drink is sweet and creamy with refreshing coconut flavor. The soft, chewy tapioca pearls make this half beverage, half snack. The butterfly pea flower tea is present more in color than flavor, but it’s more than just a novelty to me. It’s a whole new sandbox to play in! The color is so beautiful, it reminds me of ocean water and I just want to dive into it head-first. And I pretty much did just that (yum!)!
Coconut Butterfly Pea Flower Boba Tea
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon coconut extract
- 10 cups water
- 1 package 8.8 oz. dried boba tapioca pearls quick cooking 5-minute type
Butterfly pea flower tea
- 1 cup dried butterfly pea flower buds
- 2 cups boiling water
Sweet coconut cream
- 1 can coconut milk (13.5 oz.) well shaken
- 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
- Crushed ice for serving
- Make the simple syrup: Combine the water and sugar in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Heat in the microwave for 2 minutes at 100% power. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. If granules remain, heat at full power in 1-minute intervals thereafter until the sugar is melted. Stir in the coconut extract. Transfer the bowl to the refrigerator to cool. If you don’t have a microwave, the simple syrup can be made in a saucepan on the stove top.
- Bring the water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Add the boba and cook for 7 minutes, stirring gently until the pearls float to the surface of the water. Cover the pot with a lid and cook for 3 more minutes. Remove the pot from the heat source and let it stand for 5 minutes. Drain the boba with a colander, and rinse them in cool water for 20 seconds. Remove the simple syrup from the refrigerator and transfer the boba to the simple syrup. Let stand until completely cool, about 1 hour. Or, speed cooling in the refrigerator, about 30 minutes.
Butterfly pea flower tea
- Place the buds in a large glass bowl or container and pour over the boiling water. Stir the buds around and then let steep uncovered for 10-15 minutes. When the liquid is deep sapphire blue, strain out the buds using a sieve and transfer the tea to the refrigerator to cool.
Sweet coconut cream
- Combine the coconut milk and sweetened condensed milk in a large glass measure. Whisk until completely smooth.
- Put as little or as much boba as you like in the bottom of a 12-ounce glass (I used about 1/4 cup per glass). Pour sweet coconut cream about 1/3 of the way up the glass. Add crushed ice and fill to the top. Pour the butterfly pea flower tea over the ice to fill to the top of the glass. Serve immediately with bubble tea straws or with spoons. Stir together before enjoying. Assemble more glasses as needed. Store the boba tea in its syrup in the refrigerator. Also store the coconut cream and butterfly pea flower in the refrigerator until ready to use.