If you follow the latest foodie trends on Instagram, this probably isn’t the first time you’ve heard about blue matcha. The indigo powder is popping up in beautiful photos of teas, juices, and smoothie bowls that give off serious mermaid vibes. But you might be wondering, What exactly is it? And does it boast the same great health perks as green matcha?
Green matcha—which is made from the leaves of green tea—is loaded with antioxidants that have been tied to improved metabolism, anti-aging benefits, blood sugar regulation, blood pressure reduction, and protection against cancer and heart disease (whew). Matcha is also famous for its caffeine content and the "alert calm" it's said to induce, thanks to a natural substance it contains called l-theanine, which promotes relaxation without drowsiness.
But apart from its name, blue matcha has little in common with the traditional stuff, according to Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, Health’s contributing nutrition editor. “While blue matcha is pretty, it's important to know that it's not simply a blue form of traditional green matcha, but rather a completely different plant altogether,” Sass explains. Blue matcha powder comes made from the dried flowers of the butterfly pea plant.
So blue matcha is really… butterfly pea powder? It doesn’t have quite the same catchy ring. And blue matcha lacks the antioxidants and caffeine that put traditional matcha on the map, says Sass.
That said, it’s not necessarily a bad thing to add blue matcha to your smoothie bowld. It may even offer some perks of its own: “Animal research shows that [butterfly pea] may help improve memory and reduce stress, but the research is limited, and different parts of the plant—roots, stems, leaves—are used in different ways.”
Bottom line: Sorry, mermaid fans—while the photos of blue matcha creations are undoubtedly stunning, the dreamy powder lacks the proven benefits of green matcha. But going blue can’t hurt. If you want to give it a try, you can pick up some Matcha.Blue and start experimenting with your own Insta-worthy beverages and confections.