Yes, It’s Really Blue Rice

Don’t adjust your set, yes, the rice is blue. If you are bored with the usual rice alongside your Thai meal, here’s a colorful, healthful way to shake it up. Blue Butterfly Pea flowers are a traditional ingredient in South East Asia, and are used to make a beautiful tea, lemonade, cocktails, and yes, blue tinted rice. There’s nothing artificial about it, just brilliant blue flowers that are full of antioxidants.

I’ve been making blue pea-tinted lattes, smoothies and smoothie bowls for a while, but I was reminded of blue tea by a cooking class by Pranee Halvorsen, a wonderful Thai Chef. She made a blue rice and a salmon salad, and it was so lovely that I wanted to make a purely plant based blue pea meal for you all.

Watch Me Make Blue Butterfly Pea Tea

In the video and recipe below, I make enough blue tea to make some lemonade, too. The deep blue color of the blue pea comes from anthocyanins, the same pigments that make blueberries, blue potatoes, and blue corn blue. When mixed with an acid, the blue pigment turns purple. For my purple lemonade, I mix a cup of water, 2 tablespoons of agave syrup and 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon or lime juice, then top it off with about half a cup of blue tea. As the blue tea hits the lemony mixture, it transforms to a bright violet, for a fun party trick.

Blue Pea Tea and the Color Wheel

When you make a blue food, you can play with all the colors of the plant kingdom to complement and contrast. On the color wheel, blue is directly across from orange, making orange its complementary color. The deep indigo of blue pea tea pushes its complement a little toward yellow-orange. Placing orange hues alongside blues will create a striking but harmonious contrast. That’s why I made a turmeric-infused sauce and piled some mango, yellow beets, and red and orange carrots in my salad. The colors pop and the flavors work. Of course, vegetables and fruits are colorful by their nature, so it was great fun to select a rainbow of watermelon radish, purple daikon, and even some fresh violets for the final dish.

Blue Pea Tea is a Healthful Drink

I was drawn to the blue tea for the dazzle of it all, but I stayed for the health benefits. Blue pea tea has a lovely sweet taste, with none of the acidity of other flowery teas, like Hibiscus. It has none of the tannis of true tea (camellia sinensis) and none of the caffeine. It rivals green tea in its antioxidant content, so if you are looking for a beneficial beverage to drink after dinner, this is a winner. The anthocyanins that make it blue are anti-inflammatory, and we all need more of those.It’s even showing promise in studies on memory and other health concerns.

I ordered my blue pea flowers on amazon, and you may be able to find them closer to home if you shop around.

Have a colorful day.

Blue Butterfly Pea Rice with Vegetables and Satay Sauce

Course Condiment, Salad
Keyword #plant based meals, Blue Butterfly Pea Tea
Servings 4
Author Robin Asbell


Satay Sauce

  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon red curry paste more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger minced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh turmeric grated
  • 2 tablespoons coconut or palm sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
  • water as needed

Blue Pea Rice

  • 2 cups water
  • 30 blue butterfly pea flowers
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup basmati rice


  • 2 tablespoons Avocado oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon coconut or palm sugar
  • 1 watermelon radish thin wedges
  • 1/2 small purple daikon thin wedges
  • 1 large golden beet peeled and sliced in matchsticks
  • 1 large carrot matchsticks
  • 1 large mango peeled, pitted and sliced
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1 large jalapeno slivered
  • 1 package enoki mushrooms
  • garlic chives 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint
  • pea shoots and edible flowers


Satay Sauce

  • In a 1 quart pot, combine the coconut milk, curry paste, ginger, turmeric, palm sugar and salt and heat over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Whisk in the lime juice and peanut butter and simmer just until thick, if needed, thin with water to dippable consistency. Makes about 1 1/2 cup.

Blue Rice

  • For rice, place water in a small pot and bring to a boil. Take off the heat and add the pea flowers, then cover and let cool completely, until the water is deep blue. Strain and discard the flowers. Measure 1 cup of the blue water and add 1/2 cup plain water. Place in a 2 quart pot and bring to a boil, then add the rice. Return to a boil and cook for 15 minutes, until all the water is absorbed. Take off the heat and let stand, covered.


  • In a large bowl, combine the oil, lime and palm sugar, whisk to mix. Lightly dress each vegetable as chopped and arrange on a platter as you go. Top with chives, mint and flowers.
    Serve with Blue Rice and Satay Sauce.