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Drinking Butterfly Pee in Thailand

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Tonight I drank butterfly pee in Bangkok, Thailand.

And I have to say, as far as pee goes, it was quite tasty. Unexpectedly sweet and not salty at all.

butterfly pea drink, Thailand, butterfly pea, Traveling Well For Less

But then again, was it really butterfly pee?

Traveling is always a fun adventure. Both in terms of experiences and the subtle nuances of language, especially where English is involved. Because sometimes English isn’t English.

So back to drinking butterfly pee…

butterfly pea drink, Thailand, butterfly pea, Traveling Well For Less

When presented with an option of an ordinary glass of ice green tea or a lovely vibrant purple drink in a champagne saucer, how could I not choose the purple drink?

purple butterfly, Colorado Hairstreak, butterfly pea juice, Traveling Well For Less

“Colorado Hairstreak, MM” by Megan McCarty – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons

Me: “What is this beautiful drink?

Server: “Butterfly juice.”

How exactly do you get juice from a butterfly? Do you use a special butterfly juicer? Or do you milk their wings? Imagine how many butterflies you have to milk to get one drink. That must take forever.

Or do you get the juice from crushing their petals?

I can’t imagine doing that or even eating butterfly petals. Are they crunchy? Or are they soft?

And what’s the difference between butterfly petals and moth petals? Other than a little color? After all, aren’t they the same thing? Both winged insects, one more spectacular than the other. The butterfly is the prom queen and the moth is the plain jane of the insect world. The same, yet different.

But it wasn’t butterfly juice. Instead, it was butterfly pee. Yep, butterfly pee.

At least that’s what the group of guys standing by the bar said when I went back for another drink about thirty minutes later.

Me: “What? You’re telling me this is butterfly pee?”

Guys: “Yes, butterfly pee. That’s what they told us.”

I wasn’t about to take their word for it. After all, I love a good laugh. So I wasn’t sure if they were trying to pull one over on me. So I asked the bartender.

Me: “What is this?”

Bartender: “Butterfly pee.”

Okay then. Butterfly pee it is.

Naturally, I had to Google it when I got back to the hotel.

It was butterfly pee.  Or more accurately, butterfly pea drink. As in a drink made from the butterfly pea flower (clitoria ternatea).  The drink is made from steeping the flowers in hot water like you would with tea leaves. And then adding sugar.  And there you have it, butterfly pee or butterfly pea drink.

And that’s how I ended up drinking butterfly pee in Thailand.

Have you drunk butterfly pea? Or any unusual drink during your travels?

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Wednesday 22nd of November 2017

This post sums up experiencing the food of Thailand and other SE Asian countries perfectly! When I was in Bangkok, I had many such humorous encounters just reading how items were translated into English on the menu!

Amanda Kendle

Friday 16th of October 2015

Oh this is hilarious!!!! PEA!! So our hearing wasn't actually wrong, and nobody was telling us any fibs. Now I want more!!!

Debra Schroeder

Sunday 18th of October 2015

Hi Amanda,

Nope, our hearing wasn't wrong. It was pea, just not pee. :)

Shoot, I should have bought some butterfly pea flowers when we were at the flower market. Not sure I could have gotten them back through customs though...

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