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Telang flowers are small to medium in size, averaging four centimeters in length and three centimeters in diameter, and have a broad, oval, and flat to slightly curved shape. The flowers appear individually or are found growing in pairs and are attached to slender, green stems. The delicate petals are soft, smooth, and dark blue with a pale-yellow center. Depending on the variety, the flower may also appear white. Telang flowers have a crisp and tender texture with an earthy, woody, and slightly sweet taste.
Telang flowers are available year-round in tropical climates.
Telang flowers, botanically classified as Clitoria ternatea, grow on an herbaceous, evergreen plant that can climb over one meter in length and is a member of the Fabaceae family. Also known as the Butterfly Pea flower, Cordofan Pea, Darwin Pea, Blue Pea, Asian Pigeonwing, and Blue Bell vine, Telang flowers thrive in tropical climates around the world and are commonly found at forests edges or near running water. They are also popularly grown in home gardens as an ornamental and medicinal plant in Asia. Telang flowers are known for their bright blue hue when steeped in hot water and are primarily used to naturally color rice and desserts.
Telang flowers are an excellent source of flavonoids, which are antioxidants that contain anti-inflammatory properties that can help protect the immune system and help cleanse the body. The flowers also provide proanthocyanin, which is an antioxidant that can help increase blood flow.
Telang flowers are edible when fresh and can be added to salads or dipped in batter and fried, but they are more popularly steeped in boiling water to extract a deep indigo coloring. The blue mixture can then be added when cooking rice to create a blue-hued dish, or it can be used with coconut milk to color dessert bars, dumplings, and cakes. The extract is also commonly mixed into a drink with sugar syrup or honey as a sweet treat, or it is used to make glutinous rice. In addition to desserts and side dishes, Telang flowers are famous for their use in tea. When steeped, the blue tea can transform into hues of purple when mixed with an acid such as lemon juice and into shades of red when mixed with hibiscus. The tea can also be made with fresh or dried flowers, and lemongrass is often combined into the tea to add flavor. Fresh Telang flowers should be used immediately for optimum quality. When dried, they can be stored in a cool, dry, and dark place for 1-2 years.
Telang flowers are used in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine to help improve cognitive function and reduce stress. Customarily used in teas, Telang flowers are believed to contain medicinal properties such as antioxidants to help calm the nervous system and vitamins that act as a diuretic to cleanse the urinary tract and to help purify the blood. The tea is commonly consumed in Asia, mainly as an afternoon or after-dinner drink, but despite its popularity in Asia, it is mostly unknown in the Western world. Telang flower tea has recently gained notoriety in the United States for its color-changing properties and is predicted to be one of the next widespread trends for craft cocktails. One gin company has even infused the flower into their liquor to provide color-changing effects.
Telang flower is native to tropical regions in Asia and Southeast Asia, specifically Ternate island in Indonesia, and has been growing wild since ancient times. Today the plant has been spread through cultivation in tropical climates around the world, and the flowers are predominately found fresh at local markets in Asia, Southeast Asia, Australia, Africa, and tropical America. In dried form, the flowers are widespread and are sold through online retailers around the world.