A thousand and one years ago in the time when the creatures of the Himapan Forest still roamed among humans there lived a woman called Isra. One night while she was sleeping Kinnari (half woman, half bird) came to her house and beckoned her to follow. Together they flew through the starlit sky, over moonlit lotus ponds and ancient temples. Finally they entered the Himapan forest. They walked for awhile along the scented path until they came to a flower that Isra had never seen before.

“Take this with you back to the village and plant it in your garden next to the fence. It will give rest to anyone who sees it.”

Isra did as Kinnari said and the plant grew fast and tall. The flowers were a beautiful blue.

One day Isra decided to pluck them and make tea from them and enchanted all her neighbours by adding a squeeze of lime which turned the drink a pinky purple. And that is how we came to have Anchan Tea.


Clitoria ternatea, common names including butterfly-pea, blue-pea, and cordofan-pea, is a plant species belonging to the Fabaceae family.

Butterfly Pea is an ancient Thai herbal plant. Its flower has three different colors white, blue, and purple. Not only beautiful, Butterfly Pea first gained its reputation as a powerful hair strengthener in the traditional Thai medicine. leaves, flowers, seeds, and roots are all used as medicinal herbs. According to Thai culture & folklore, butterfly pea flowers are squeezed to make Anchan tea, and as a coloring for Thai desserts in blue and purple colors. It also provides anthocyanin to improve eyesight, treat opthalmitis and eye infections, nourish hair, provide antioxidants and boost body immunity. Many health & beauty products are derived from this flower because of the positive effects of the flavanoid, Quercetin has on skin & hair. The hot or cold tea is extremely thirst quenching and relaxing.

Isra in Thai means nocturnal journey.

“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.”
― Philip Pullman


  1. I recently tasted the cold, sweet n beautifully purple Anchan drink at a Thai Street Food Festival in Mumbai. Besides loving the taste of the drink, and enjoying it’s instantly refreshing qualities, I was thrilled to see that the blue flower that is used for the drink is actually something very familiar and dear to me – as kids we would pick these flowers off the roadside to offer in our daily worship and at temples! Never knew then that this curiously-shaped flower had such fabulous medicinal properties!
    Thank you for sharing this beautiful folklore. I am doing a short story myself and someone from the Thai embassy forwarded this blog post to me for reference. So I will be using your story (with credit, of course!) on my blog Follow The Eaten Path. See you there! 🙂

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