Camellia seed oil
Scientific name: Camellia Oleifera
Family Name: Theaceae, tea
Origin: Eastern and Southern Asia
Camellia is a genus of flowering plants in the family Theaceae. They are found in eastern and southern Asia, from the Himalayas east to Japan and Indonesia. There are 100–250 described species, with some controversy over the exact number. The genus was named by Linnaeus after the Jesuit botanist Georg Joseph Kamel, who worked in the Philippines, though he never described a camellia. This genus is famous throughout East Asia; camellias are known as cháhuā (茶花) in Chinese, "tea flower", an apt designation, as tsubaki (椿) in Japanese, as dongbaek-kkot (동백꽃) in Korean and as hoa trà or hoa chè in Vietnamese.
Of economic importance in the Indian subcontinent and Asia, leaves of C. sinensis are processed to create the popular beverage, tea. The ornamental Camellia japonica, Camellia oleifera and Camellia sasanqua and their hybrids are represented in cultivation by a large number of cultivars.
Camellia oleifera, which originated in China, is notable as an important source of edible oil (known as tea oil or camellia oil) obtained from its seeds. It is commonly known as the Oil-seed Camellia or Tea Oil Camellia, though to a lesser extent other species of Camellia are used in oil production too.
This species looks much similar to Camellia sasanqua except the dark green, evergreen leaves are a bit larger, three to five inches long and two to three inches wide. Single, white, fragrant flowers are produced in late winter, and this large shrub or small tree will reach a height of 20 feet with thin, upright, multiple trunks and branches. The crown forms a rounded or oval vase with lower branches removed.
The seeds of Camellia oleifera can be pressed to yield tea oil, a sweetish seasoning and cooking oil that should not be confused with tea tree oil, an essential oil that is used for medical and cosmetical purposes and originates from the leaves of a different plant. Tea-oil Camellia is commonly over 80% monounsaturated fat. As such, it reduces LDL ('bad cholesterol'). Tea Oil is also known as "Tea Seed Oil" when sold as cooking oil in supermarkets throughout Australia, New Zealand and the United States.
It can also be used in textile manufacture, soap making and as an illuminant. Camellia oil is also traditionally used to protect Japanese woodworking tools and cutlery from corrosion and is currently sold for that purpose.