Camellia Seed Oil, the olive oil of the east, is also called Tea seed oil, Tea Oil Camellia or oil-seed Camellia and is not to be confused with the inedible Tea Tree Oil. Camellia Seed Oil generally comes from the seeds of the common Tea plant, Camellia oleifera. It can also come from Camellia sinensis or a blend of the two. In Japan, it is known as “tsubaki” but has a slightly different composition, coming from Camellia japonica, which is native to southern Japan. Tea Seed Oil has been used for over a thousand years in China and Indochina, where the tea trees grow wild. It has been used historically in southern China as a cooking and cosmetic oil.
Camellia Seed Oil is pale amber to pale jade in colour with a faint taste of green tea and very little odour. Depending on the region it comes from, the oil is roughly 56-80% monounsaturated oleic acid, 8-22% linoleic acid, 9-21% palmitic acid and 1-3% stearic acid. It also contains the minerals phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, iron and manganese, as well as vitamin E, carotenoids, tocopherols and tocotrienols, phenolic compounds, selenium, squalene, sesamin and several trace elements. At least four compounds, the antioxidants tea poly-phenol, tea glycoside, and tea saponin and the novel lignan dubbed compound B, are not found anywhere else.
Camellia Oil is antiseptic, antifungal and antibacterial. It is also very stable, due to the large amount of antioxidants found in the oil, especially the two lignans, sesamin and compound B, which have been shown to display remarkable antioxidant activity. Additionally, sesamin increases ketone production. Camellia Oil lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, protects the liver, is antitumour, anticarcinoma and suppresses fat cell differentiation, which helps with weight loss. Camellia Oil is often compared to Olive Oil because the two are so similar. One interesting difference is that it has less polyphenols than Olive Oil but they are more potent.
The rich emollient and antioxidant content of Camellia Oil makes it highly moisturising for skin and hair. It is very skin friendly, absorbing quickly and easily, offering protection against premature aging, moisture loss and UV penetration from the sun.
Camellia Oil is very versatile for skin, hair and cosmetic use. It can be used neat on scars, wounds and acne and as an anti-aging moisturiser. In commercial cosmetics it is included in day and night creams, anti-wrinkle serums, lipsticks, hair creams, shampoo, make-up and make-up removers, anti-sun preparations, blushers and soaps. In industrial applications it is used in lubricants, paints and rust proofing products.
Camellia oil has similar properties to cocoa butter and can be a substitute in chocolate and confectionary.
As a food oil and supplement, Camellia Oil is a wonderful preventative against diseases associated with oxidative stress, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.
Whilst Camellia Seed Oil is very similar in composition to Olive Oil, it has a higher smoke point (252°C, compared to 161°C) and can be used for stir-frying, on vegetables and in salad dressings and sauces. Its main attraction is that it doesn’t influence the flavour of other ingredients.