Conventional wisdom has taught us that few colors are less appetizing than blue, owing to its scarcity in nature, and especially on the dinner plate. Intuitively avoiding foods that might be moldy, poisonous, or otherwise contaminated, centuries of visual training are hard to deny when confronted with foreign fare. And yet, precisely because such comestibles are so rare, we find ourselves impossibly compelled by these vibrant sights. Splashed across Instagram like edible sapphires, blue eats and drinks dazzle as much as they confound the casual voyeur.
Blue matcha is the culprit behind this azure trend, although the name itself is rather misleading. Made from powdered butterfly pea flowers, it’s an herbal, caffeine-free tisane that shares only a similar brewing method and comparable similar notes of delicate green tea. Far more restrained than the sometimes bitter green brew, the flavor may disappoint matcha aficionados but delight those looking for a less abrasive midday pick-me-up.
Raw food crafters in particular have taken a shine to this blue-hued fairy dust, stretching scant supplies to dye scores of unbaked cheesecakes and other sweet treats. What it lacks in bold flavor, it makes up for in vibrancy; a small pinch can go a long way as a natural food coloring agent.
Applying heat or acid creates a variable situation. Particularly acidic environments will coax the typically cerulean hue to shift toward a the purple family, which can be a fun party trick, but less desirable for a true blue treat. Double up on the dose, avoid citrus pairings or yogurt-based batters, and keep oven temperatures on the down-low for the most royal results.
Sweets and snacks are not the only striking applications for this brilliant blue pigment. Thais have been staining white rice with the raw blossoms since the beginning of recorded history, long before their lavish dishes could go viral on social media. Taking a hint from tradition, one of my favorite ways to elevate the average noodle is now my signature “blu-don bowl,” a bold new spin on the popular bowl-in-one, topped with any variety of vegetables, proteins, and sauces I can pull out of the fridge. It all magically tastes good together, no matter what odd assortment is on hand, tied together by the beautiful strands of chewy udon that shine with an otherworldly teal tint, all from a quick dip in boiling blue matcha tea.
As the days grow warmer though, I look to this cool blue powder for a more cooling experience than the typical hot preparation might provide. Blended ice, blueberries, and a tiny touch of mint form the base for a truly refreshing frappe, far more appealing than anything Starbucks might churn out. Lighter than a milkshake yet more substantial than a mere iced latte, it navigates the fine line in between with grace. Though blue matcha is still something of a rarity on the mainstream market, if the current trends are any indication of its popularity, the powder should soon be staining a brave new world of sweets and savories near you.
Blue Moon Frappe
1 Teaspoon Blue Matcha
2 Tablespoons Warm Water
1/2 Cup Vanilla Non-Dairy Milk
1/4 Cup Blueberries
6 – 8 Ice Cubes
2 – 3 Teaspoons Light Agave Nectar
1/4 Teaspoon Peppermint Extract
Whisk together the blue matcha and warm water, stirring vigorously until the powder has dissolved. Pour the mixture into your blender along with all of the remaining ingredients, adding more ice or sweetener based on your preference. Puree on high speed to crush the ice into a velvety smooth blend, with no lumps or chunks remaining. Serve immediately before it begins to melt!
Makes 1 Serving