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Blue lotus tea is made from the dried flowers of the blue lotus plant, and its popularity has surged over recent years.
There are claims by vendors that blue lotus tea offers relaxation and sleep-related benefits, but is there evidence to back these claims?
This article explores the attributes of blue lotus tea, delves into the existing research, and answers whether or not it holds any notable benefits.
Table of contents
- What Is Blue Lotus Tea?
- Does Blue Lotus Tea Have Any Health Benefits?
- Potential Downsides and Side Effects
- Blue Lotus Legality and FDA Approval
- How To Make Blue Lotus Tea
- Where To Buy
- Final Thoughts
What Is Blue Lotus Tea?
The scientific name of the blue lotus plant is Nymphaeaceae caerulea, and it is commonly found in Northern and Central Africa (1).
However, it can also be found around in regions with warm climates worldwide, such as Southeast Asia. As a type of water lily, blue lotus is also referred to as ‘blue lily,’ and it floats on the surface of ponds, lakes, and rivers (2).
In recent times, blue lotus has gained popularity for its preparation as a tea. Making the tea is a simple process that involves steeping the dried flowers of the blue lotus in hot water.
Contrary to its name, “blue” lotus tea is not actually blue, and neither are the flowers of the plant. The tea itself has a color reminiscent of light green tea, while the flower’s leaves tend to have a light purple hue with a yellow center.
Note: for those wanting a genuinely “blue tea,” butterfly pea flower tea has a deep blue appearance.
Claims often circulate about blue lotus tea’s potential relaxing and calming effects, suggesting it could be an effective sleep aid. Later in this article, we will examine whether these claims are substantiated by evidence.
How Does It Taste?
Similar to many other ‘herbal tea’ beverages, blue lotus tea has a relatively mild and earthy flavor.
As with any variety of tea, the strength of the tea depends on the brewing time.
Does Blue Lotus Tea Have Any Health Benefits?
Let’s explore whether scientific research substantiates the health claims surrounding blue lotus tea having benefits.
Is There Evidence For Relaxing and Sleep-enhancing Properties?
Apomorphine has a history of medical use as a sedative (5).
These findings support the possibility of blue lotus tea having a relaxing effect. However, reliable evidence from scientific studies to confirm this is lacking.
However, several crucial points should be noted:
- There is a distinct lack of research on the effect of blue lotus flowers on humans. Rat studies may not accurately reflect effects in humans, and there are no studies with human participants confirming its relaxant effects.
- Rat studies used pure alkaloid (nuciferine) extracts from blue lotus leaves rather than the dried flowers themselves (6). Thus, the doses in the studies were likely much higher than those achievable through drinking prepared tea.
- One study analyzed the chemical composition of eleven commercial blue lotus products. However, the analysis found that “nuciferine and amorphone were found in traces or were absent, respectively, from the studied authentic extracts” (8).
In summary, there is no high-quality, reliable evidence supporting blue lotus tea’s relaxant or sleep aid properties. While such effects may be plausible, they lack confirmation from scientific research.
High Phytochemical Content
The flowers of the blue lotus plant have a vibrant purple hue stemming from the pigments they contain. These pigments are all varieties of phytochemicals.
Studies investigating the chemical composition of blue lotus have demonstrated that it is a rich source of phytochemicals, primarily flavonoid polyphenols, including (9):
- Gallic acid
According to a systematic review of the literature, higher polyphenol intakes are associated with a reduced risk of chronic disease (10).
However, these polyphenols are present in various plant foods, so this benefit isn’t exclusive to blue lotus tea.
Potential Downsides and Side Effects
Regarding potential safety issues with blue lotus tea, here is a summary of existing research:
Firstly, a 2018 study on the chemical composition and safety of blue lotus extracts found no major safety concerns for authentic blue lotus extracts. However, it highlighted limited available safety data (8).
However, a case series published in 2021 presented information about five patients admitted to the emergency department after using blue lotus flower extract (11). These patients, all service members, exhibited symptoms of “sedation” and “perceptual disturbances.”
That said, it is important to note that four of these cases resulted from patients consuming blue lotus extract via electronic cigarettes (‘vapes’). The other case arose from the patient ingesting “blue lotus infused wine.”
Out of the five cases, three patients declined to state where they obtained their blue lotus product. The remaining two reported that they ordered it online. While these reports are concerning, determining precisely what these patients consumed, and in what dose, is challenging.
One interesting potential explanation for these past adverse effects with blue lotus extract could be its possible mixing with other substances. For example, according to the Department of Defense, there are common reports of blue lotus extracts being laced with synthetic cannabinoids (12).
Notably, there are no reported adverse effects from blue lotus tea consumption.
Blue Lotus Legality and FDA Approval
Like many herbal products and teas, blue lotus is categorized as a ‘dietary supplement,’ and is therefore not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In other words, like many dietary supplements, it has not been approved for human use, common among dietary supplements.
Blue lotus tea (and extracts in general) is legal throughout the United States, except in Louisiana, where it is prohibited. Interestingly, blue lotus is illegal in the state of Louisiana, meaning it cannot be prepared, sold, or consumed within Louisiana (13).
Despite its (mostly) legal status, blue lotus was added to the Department of Defense’s ‘Prohibited Dietary Supplements Ingredients List.’ This decision followed the previously mentioned case series in 2021, in which five service members had adverse reactions to blue lotus extracts (14, 12).
As with anything else, it is crucial to purchase blue lotus tea from a trusted source rather than an anonymous person.
How To Make Blue Lotus Tea
Making blue lotus tea is a straightforward process, but it depends on what variety of the tea you have.
Blue Lotus Teabags
With blue lotus teabags, simply add one to a cup, pour boiled water into the cup, and then allow it to steep for 3-4 minutes.
Adjust the brewing time based on your taste preferences, opting for a slightly shorter duration for a milder drink and a bit longer for a stronger taste.
Loose Dried Blue Lotus Flowers
For loose dried blue lotus flowers, the typical amount recommended by manufacturers advise is a level tablespoon of dried flowers, equivalent to approximately 3-5 grams.
The easiest way to make blue lotus tea with loose dried flowers is by using a teapot and a tea strainer.
- Fill a teapot or heatproof container with boiling water.
- Add the dried flowers to the teapot and let them brew for 3-4 minutes.
- Once brewed, use a tea strainer to pour the tea into a cup, leaving the dried flowers behind.
Where To Buy
As discussed in the ‘potential downsides’ section, it is crucial to purchase authentic blue lotus tea from a trusted supplier.
Avoid buying from relatively anonymous sources and opt for trustworthy sellers, such as shops specializing in herbal teas and supplements.
Additionally, there is a range of blue lotus tea products available on Amazon.
Despite the hype surrounding blue lotus tea and its potential relaxing properties, the lack of scientific evidence to confirm these effects is noteworthy.
There are also some concerns regarding a small number of adverse events, which people experienced after using blue lotus extracts. However, it is unclear if simply drinking the tea could have such effects.
With limited safety data on blue lotus tea, it might be advisable to explore alternative tea options.
For those choosing to consume blue lotus tea, purchasing from a trusted source and following dose and usage guidelines is essential.