In case the sights, history, cuisine and culture weren't big enough draws for you to consider a trip to Asia, maybe this will be: According to Starbucks, there's a now a new iced drink on the menu at Starbucks locations across Asia that changes colors — and it's a mix of cold brew, tea, and lemonade. Yes, you'll want to know what the Starbucks Butterfly Pea Flower Lemonade Cold Brew is, because, if you're anything like me, you're already looking into plane tickets for a vacation so you can try it (and also, you know, take a vacation).
The drink, according to Starbucks was created to celebrate the approaching spring season, and judging by its appearance, they totally succeeded — it's colorful, fun, and also sounds delicious. Plus, it's got tons of layers: From the outside, the drink might look like some kind of dainty unicorn tea drink, but the truth is it's an espresso drink — and that purple coloring? It's actually pea protein, not unicorn juice. You don't need to artificial coloring to make a beautiful drink, which is exactly why Starbucks has been experimenting with vegetable and fruit derived coloring for some time now.
The Butterfly Pea Flower Lemonade Cold Brew — who's gonna be the first to order it as a "BPFLCB"? — is a mix of a sweet refreshing lemonade and a strong, energizing coffee. The first layer of the drink is butterfly pea flower tea, also known as "Asian Pigeonwing" — it's a popular ingredient in Southeastern Asia, and and is often used in dishes and drinks due to its color-changing abilities. If you've ever been to Thailand, you might even recognize it as the welcome drink of choice. It changes colors completely naturally too: The pea flower within the tea has a natural blue hue when mixed with water, but when you mix it with lemon, it takes on a violet appearance due it its delicate pH balance. So when you mix water and lemon, aka, lemonade, the pea flower turns to this galactic mood ring type thing that changes as it's mixed together. Also, despite the fact that it looks as sweet as melted candy it's actually got a natural earthy flavor to it that can be compared to a fine green tea.
The next layer of the drink is a sweet and sour lemonade. Not only does it help to change the color of the pea flower tea, but it balances out the strong flavors of the other, less sweet ingredients. And lastly, a layer of classic Starbucks Cold Brew really rounds out the flavor profile of this drink. With each sip, depending on where you put your straw, you could experience a new flavor. So it's not just color-changing, but it's also taste changing. It's three drinks in one! Tea, lemonade, and cold brew — and somehow it works.
So get ready to see a lot of this drink in your newsfeed, it probably won't be the last time you see the butterfly pea flower. Though it's most popular in Asia, it's definitely on the radar in the culinary scene in America. The mild-tasting caffeine-free tea is super common in Southeast Asia, meaning that the ingredient is accessible, and a good candidate for some interesting culinary experimentation. I can't wait to see where it shows up next.
But more importantly, I just hope that Starbucks eventually brings the drink to this side of the planet. Haven't we proved our undying devotion to colorful drinks? Did we not wipe out Unicorn Frappuccino inventory across the nation in only a few days? There's no doubt this drink would be a big hit here... hint hint, Starbucks!