If you follow the latest foodie trends, this probably isn’t the first time you’ve heard about blue matcha. The indigo powder is popping up all over Instagram 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?
The green stuff 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). Traditinoal 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 according to Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, Health’s contributing nutrition editor, green and blue matcha have little in common apart from the name. “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.
“Traditional matcha is made from the same plant green tea is made from," she says. Blue matcha powder, meanwhile, is 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 trendy ring. And according to Sass, blue matcha lacks the antioxidants and caffeine that put traditional matcha on the map.
That said, it’s not necessarily a bad thing to add blue matcha to your smoothies. It may even offer some perks of its own: “Animal research shows that [the butterfly pea plant] 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 blue matcha creates photos that are undoubtedly stunning, it 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 a tube of Matcha.Blue ($24, amazon.com) and start whipping up your own magical-looking beverages and confections.