Tea seed oil

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Tea seed oil (also known as tea oil, camellia oil, or tsubaki oil) is an edible, pale amber-green fixed oil with a sweet, herbal aroma. It is cold-pressed mainly from the seeds of Camellia oleifera but also from Camellia sinensis, Camellia japonica and Camellia sasanqua.


Tea seed oil should not be confused with tea tree oil (melaleuca oil), an inedible essential oil extracted from the leaves of the paperbar], Melaleuca alternifolia, and used for medicinal purposes.

Culinary uses

With its high smoke point (252°C, 485°F), tea seed oil is the main cooking oil in some of the southern provinces of China, such as Hunan. In Japan tea seed oil is derived from Camellia japonica, mainly from Gotō Islands of Nagasaki prefecture and Izu islands of Tokyo prefecture.

Tea seed oil resembles olive oil and grape seed oil in its excellent storage qualities and low content of saturated fat. Monounsaturated oleic acid may comprise up to 88 percent of the fatty acids. It is high in vitamin E and other antioxidants and contains no trans fats.

Tea seed oil is used in salad dressings, dips, marinades and sauces, for sautéing and frying.

Additional uses

Tea seed oil is used to manufacture soap, hair oil, lubricants, paint and a rustproofing oil as well as in synthesis of other high molecular weight compounds. Soapmaking tables list it as one of the comparatively few oils that produce high-lather soap. Japanese tea seed oil (usually called tsubaki oil) is used for setting the hair of sumo wrestlers and for tempura. Camellia oil is also used as rust protection for swords and woodworking hand tools, such as axes. Owing to the cost of genuine camellia oil, many oils sold for this purpose are actually fish oi]s, with an added scent.

Tea seed oil is also used as an ingredient in the Chinese medicated oil Po Sum On.