Bunga Telang (Blue Pea Vine or Butterfly Pea), A Natural Blue Food Dye

Bunga telang (or bunga teleng or kembang teleng or or bunga biru) is also known as Butterfly Pea or Blue Pea Vine in English. This plant is native to tropical equatorial Asia, but has been introduced to Africa, Australia and America. I was a bit weird when I knew the scientific name Clitoria Ternatea. Then it’s explained why it has that name. The flowers of this vine have the shape of human female pudenda, hence the Latin name of the genus “Clitoria”, from “clitoris”. (Synonyms: Clitoris principissae.). While “Ternatea”, the name of the species, comes from Ternate, a location in East Indonesia.

In Indonesia, this flower is grown on the front or back fence and the edge of the forest and mostly used for naturopathy (alternative medicine) such as treating red eye, ulcer, earache, fever, distended abdomen and, irritation in the bladder and urethra, as well as eliminating phlegm on chronic bronchitis.   In Malaysia, bunga telang is used for natural blue colouring for nasi kerabu Terengganu and pulut tai tai Peranakan or Nonya.  Meanwhile in Thailand, there is blue syrupy beverage called nam dok anchan (น้ำดอกอัญชัน). Dok Anchan is a blue pea vine in Thai.  Beside for drinking purpose, Butterfly Pea has been used in ancient Thai herbal medicine to treat hair loss and prematurely grey hair for many decades. It works by promoting blood circulation in the scalp, nourishing and strengthening hair follicles.

I was just so fascinating with the colour, I have been a huge fan of blue since I was a kid.  Yes I’m a blue colour lover.  You may wonder where I got this.  Have you ever heard about Etsy? In that website, you can find this air dried bunga telang as well as the seed if you want to plant it.

About the Author

An Indonesian-born who lived in Winnipeg, Canada for more than a decade prior to move to Edmonton in 2017. Indonesia Eats is a memoir of her homeland.