Brighten Your R&R Time with Colorful Thai Herbal Teas

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Clockwise from center front: Butterfly Pea, Roselle, Emblica, Gotu Kola and Bael Fruit.

Clear herbal teas in hues of blue, red, yellow and more can gently add a touch of color to your relaxation time. Pour yourself a glass during the hot summer season to enjoy with a cool breeze.

I tried five kinds of brightly colored herbal teas at Abhaibhubejhr Japan Inc. in Tokyo, a company that imports and sells Thai herbs.

“All the colors seep out naturally from these herbs that are grown in Thailand,” said Abhaibhubejhr Japan President Takahiro Kawakami, 65.

The most eye-catching is the mysterious blue Butterfly Pea, which is used by the Thai king as a tea for entertaining guests and also in cooking.

A member of the legume family, Butterfly Pea has a subtle flavor like a pea.

“It is thought to be effective in preventing eye fatigue as well as body coldness due to poor circulation,” Kawakami said.

Herbs, which have a long history of being used as medicine in Thailand, are said to be useful in taking care of one’s health.

I also tried the golden colored Emblica, which has a refreshing sourness that seems to suit the hot season.

The bright red Roselle has a sour but smooth taste. Gotu Kola is light yellow-green and slightly bitter, while Bael Fruit has a fruity aroma and a hint of sweetness.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Roselle herbal tea

The other appeal of Butterfly Pea tea is how it changes color. Adding lemon or lime juice to the tea changes the color from blue to purple. Iced Butterfly Pea tea turns pink when lemonade or other lemon-based drinks are added.

The color change is due to anthocyanin, a natural pigment found in the blue flowers of the pea that reacts to acidic fruit juices, said Kawakami.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Butterfly Pea tea turns purple when a squeeze of lemon is added.

To make a good cup of herbal tea, pay attention to the way the color appears. Pour boiling water over the tea bags or tea flowers and wait for a while. The tea is ready when the color is bright and not cloudy.

In summer, brew stronger tea and add ice. “You can also carry the herbal tea in a clear plastic bottle,” said Kawakami. “Enjoy the vivid color of natural herbs when you are out and about or at work.”

Enjoy clarity of tea in jelly

Courtesy of Abhaibhubejhr Japan
Layered jelly made with Butterfly Pea tea and milk

On a hot day, how about refreshing yourself with chilled layered jelly made with herbal tea? Natsuko Ueda, a public relations staff member of Abhaibhubejhr Japan, shared a recipe that makes the most of the blue color of Butterfly Pea.

Brew the herbal tea by pouring 200-250 cc of boiling water over four or five Butterfly Pea tea flowers and wait until the desired color is achieved. Add sugar or honey as needed, then dissolve 5 grams of gelatin into the tea. Place in a bowl or mold, and put it in the refrigerator to cool.

After the herbal tea jelly has set, pour in white milk jelly on top and allow it to set. This process of alternately cooling and setting the jelly in the bowl creates a stylish dish.

“The transparency of the jelly will stand out if you make the herbal tea a little weaker,” Ueda said. She also recommends using Roselle for its vibrant red color.