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What's That Blue Food All Over Instagram?

January 11, 2018

There are so few foods that are blue. We've got green greens and orange oranges, purple eggplants and pink radishes, yellow squashes and red tomatoes, but blue is mostly MIA from our edible rainbow. Even blueberries aren’t necessarily blue but, rather, a vivid violet. It’s a shame, really. The hue is so inviting and beloved, it would be so nice to to taste it.

Well, a recent spate of Instagram posts have awakened me to the existence of a food that actually is blue. It’s being called blue matcha and boy is it blue. It's being sold by a company called and like its green cousin, the blue substance can be seen served in bowl with chia seeds and banana slices, coconut flakes and frozen berries—all the usual suspects. But what actually is this stuff and is it really matcha?

As it turns out, the answer is no. The blue powder being billed as blue matcha is made from the flowers of the butterfly pea, a tropical plant native to parts of Indonesia and Malaysia. The flowers, with their warm purple petals, are shockingly beautiful. The butterfly pea plant can be found in colorful teas: In Vietnam and Thailand, people drink nam dok anchan, a butterfly pea infusion sweetened with honey and lemon. It’s said to fortify hair and strengthen one’s eyesight. This Bon Appetit video shows the plant in action.

The company branding the powder as "matcha" might be mistaken... or extremely clever. Blue matcha, or butterfly pea powder, doesn't have all the antioxidant properties of matcha, nor does it contain caffeine. Is just capitalizing on the enormous popularity of matcha? I'll let you decide.

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Valerio is a freelance food writer, editor, researcher and cook. He grew up in his parent's Italian restaurants covered in pizza flour and drinking a Shirley Temple a day. Since, he's worked as a cheesemonger in New York City and a paella instructor in Barcelona. He now lives in Berlin, Germany where he's most likely to be found eating shawarma.

1 Comment

Ronnie January 31, 2018
Love that there are more natural options to color one's food & bev blue! I use b'Lure, a butterfly pea flower extract made by Wild Hibiscus Flower Co.