Camellia oil, also known as tea seed oil is the actual green tea oil. It comes from the seeds of Camellia sinensis, the plant from which all the tea is made. Tea seed oil is a wonderfully healthy in more ways than one. It is great for cooking, and from nutritional point of view. Tea seed oil is used in a number of beauty products. This oil has been used as a cooking for centuries in Southern China and they make many more uses with it.
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Camellia oil is extracted from the seeds of the tea plant. That makes it the real tea oil. Tea tree oil on the other hand does not come from the tea plant. It comes from the tree called Melaleuca alternifolia, which is native to Australia. There are some varieties of Camellia oil.
- Camellia sinensis oil – This is the tea seed oil.
- Camellia japonica oil – Also known as Japanese tea oil. However, this plant does not produce tea leaves. It is a flowering plant with red blooms. Its oil is known as tsubaki oil and it is used heavily in cosmetic applications.
- Camellia oleifera oil – This is known as tea oil or Camellia oil.
So, technically the naming can be a bit confusing. The Camellia sinensis and oleifera oil are the ones referred to as Camellia oil in general and may be used interchangeably. The Camellia Japonica oil is better known as Tsubaki and it is also different in terms of its chemical composition and nutritional value.
The oil is extracted using solvent extraction or cold processing. One might hear about cold filtered oil, but that does ot mean cold pressed oil. If the contents used to make oil are heated prior to oil extraction, it may change the chemical composition and properties of nutrients in that oil, which is often not natural.
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Tea seed oil production is well monitored using quality control techniques . This oil has great commercial value in China as it is used by a huge fraction of the population. The oil is also getting attention from prominent international organizations like FAO. Since it is used as a cooking oil, it needs to be correctly monitored for its fatty acid profile.
Camellia oil exerts many therapeutic properties. They have healing and nutritional power, making them fit for use even in medicinal formulations.
- Emollient – Tea seed oil is a brilliant moisturizer.
- Antioxidant – Camellia oil, like green tea is a superb antioxidant. It resists rancidity strongly. 
- Hair conditioner – used as a traditional hair treatment in the ancient times in China.
- Cicatrizant – promotes recovery of wounds and scrapes. 
- Anti-Aging – protects the skin from free radical damage due to its antioxidant. Reduces ageing due to the skin and other environmental free radicals.
- Anti-microbial – It stops the proliferation of microbes. It is especially notable for its anti-fungal properties. 
- Lipid Lowering Effects – reduces LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. 
- Emulsifying Agent – This means that tea seed oil quickly emulsifies other fats. This makes it a nice additive to cosmetic products whether they are commercial or home-made.
- Insecticide – useful as a pesticide for certain agricultural crops. 
- Immune booster. 
- Anti-mutation – This means that it can prevent certain cancers from even occurring. 
- Astringent – It has a mild astringent effect which makes it good for treating injuries and scars.
- Anti-inflammatory – reduces inflammation on the skin.
- Neuroprotective – reduces damage to the nervous system.
- Anti-diabetic – has blood glucose lowering ability.
- Analgesic – natural pain reliever.
- Anti-Allergic – can help in suppressing an allergy.
Color, Taste and Aroma
These three are very important properties of any oil. Camellia oil has a mild amber green color. The oil has a sweet and pleasant aroma, which makes it a nice carrier oil for aromatherapy. However, it doesn’t have much of a taste and is quite bland.
Tea seed oil can be applied topically and consumed internally to obtain its health benefits. Because of its healing properties, there are many of benefits to be availed.
1. Camellia oil for Skin
Women in China confide in tea seed oil for many beauty applications. This oil is great for use in home-made topical application products. It is a nice moisturizer for the skin because of its exceptionally high oleic acid ( omega – 9 ) content. It is light and is quickly absorbed into the skin, much like olive oil. These are some of the ways in which tea seed oil is used for skin care.
- Apply a small amount right after a shower for achieving soft, silky smooth skin. It reduces dryness and paleness of skin caused due to showering for long time.
- Apply a small amount on scars, like acne scars, wounds, cuts and scrapes. It helps to heal them.
- Add a small amount of camellia oil to your home-made sunscreen. There are many formulations for sunscreen to be made at home, most using zinc oxide. It improves the SPF by about 5 points.
- Massage tea seed oil on wrinkle and fine lines. Its anti-aging capabilities help to reduce signs of damage caused by the sun. It makes a nice face massage oil for the night.
- Treat rough skin with camellia oil, like the skin on the knees and heels. They are prone to dryness and cracks.
- Nail Softener – Dip your nails in warm camellia oil. It softens the nails and makes them more easy to manage.
- Make up remover – Tea seed oil is great at removing makeup. It is actually used in makeup removers.
- For Acne – One should avoid using it on active acne because it is not sure whether this oil is comedogenic or not. It might lead to acne breakouts.
2. Camellia Oil for Hair
Camellia oil, or tea seed oil is not as renowned for hair care as the Camellia japonica oil. That oil is much more powerful for hair care. However, tea seed oil too can be used. One can do a hot oil conditioning using tea seed oil. It feels similar to olive oil. There is a pretty unique way to apply Camellia oil to hair. This method involves dipping a wooden comb in camellia oil for a few hours, and then combing hair with it. This provides the hair with small amounts of camellia oil each time, which conditions them and makes it easy to comb without tangles.
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Tea oil has been identified to prevent the proliferation of specifically three cancers. These are the colon cancer, uterus cancer and breast cancer . This effect opens avenues for further studies on the effectiveness of camellia oil to reduce the risk of these cancers. One can easily take it in diet by cooking food with it.
4. Boost Immunity
Regular consumption of tea seed oil boosts the functioning of our immune system. This helps to fend off all kinds of diseases and infections.  This effect is due to micronutrients called triterpenoids in camellia oil.
5. Reduces oxidative stress
This is a kind of stress that free radicals put on our body. It has been found that oxidative stress can be a leading cause of heart disease and degenerative diseases. The antioxidants from tea seed oil reduce oxidative stress and help our body deal with free radical damage. 
Camellia oil is used for a variety of other purposes.
- Cooking – Camellia oil is ideal for deep frying because it has a superb high smoke point of 252 ° C. It is used for deep frying, stir frying and as a salad dressing.
- Machinery lubricant – Tea seed oil is used to cleanse and lubricate some machine parts.
- Ingredient in beauty products like night creams, salves, hair care products and perfumes.
- Used to coat iron products to prevent rusting.
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Side Effects, Safe Dosage and Toxicity Issues
There is not much information on the safety and interaction of tea seed oil. Much of he production of this oil comes from China. One should make sure to purchase camellia oil from a reputed manufacturer. This oil may be adulterated with cheaper filler oils or may contain harmful chemicals used during processing.
Nutritional and Medicinal Information
Camellia oil is a powerhouse of nutrition. It is one of the few edible oils which have nutrients other than the essential fatty acids. Its fats composition gets a lot of attention, because it is similar to olive oil. This implies is that this oil is almost as healthy as olive oil. Tea seed oil contains Vitamins, like Vitamin E, healthy fatty acids and numerous micronutrients which have tremendous health benefits.
Fatty Acid Nutritional Profile of Camellia Oil
Tea seed oil is almost 90 % unsaturated fat, which is unique among oils. It is therefore a heart healthy oil which has been identified to lower LDL cholesterol levels and harmful triglycerides from the body. Of this unsaturated fat, oleic acid makes a significant part. This is the complete fatty acid composition of camellia oil. This oil is pretty low in omega-3 fatty acid, but significant amount of omega-6 is present.
|Gamma Linoleic Acid (18:3)||–||PUFA|
|Stearic Acid (18:0)||1.1 %||Saturated fat|
|Palmitic Acid (16:0)||8.8 %||Saturated fat|
|Palmitoleic Acid (16:1)||1.5 %||MUFA|
|Oleic Acid (18:1)||82.3 %||MUFA|
|Linoleic Acid (18:2)||7.4 %||PUFA|
|Alpha Linolenic Acid(18:3)||0.2 %||PUFA|
|Erucic Acid (22:1)||–||MUFA|
|Gadoleic Acid (20:1)||–||MUFA|
|Behenic Acid (22:0)||–||Saturated fat|
|Arachidic Acid (20:0)||–||Saturated fat|
Source : 6
Besides the healthy fats, Camellia oil also contains some nutrients. It contains Vitamin E and minor amounts of other vitamins and minerals. Some of the minerals in this oil are calcium, phosphorus and potassium Tea seed oil however gets it prominent health benefits from a whole range of micro-nutrients. These are the prominent nutrients from tea seed oil.
- Squalane – Possibly anticancer compound. It is commonly found in shark oil.
- Saponins – These compounds lower cholesterol and reduce risk of heart disease.
- Kaempferol and its glycosides – These are strongly anti-inflammatory compounds, like quercetin. They help to protect the body from damage by inflammatory conditions.
Chemical properties of Camellia Oil
|Density||0.903 g/ml||light oil, great for massage oil|
|Storage temperature||–||Ideal temperature for storage|
|Comedogenicity||–||Pore clogging potential ( 0 – 5 )|
|pH||–||Measure of Acidity|
|Peroxide Value||less than 0.1||Measure of Initial Rancidity|
|Saponification Value||194.9||Measure of the average carbon chain length|
|Iodine Value||85||Measure of unsaturation of oil|
|Free Fatty Acids||–||Percentage of volatile oils|
Source : 7
Buying and Storage
Camellia oil is highly resistant to rancidity. It has a wonderful shelf life. However, it should not be kept close to direct sunlight. There are many ways to extract an oil, but the cold pressed unfiltered is perhaps the healthiest. One should go for the organic, cold pressed camellia oil for personal use.
1. Characterization of tea seed oil for quality control and authentication. Peter J. Lee et. al.
2. Antioxidant activity and bioactive compounds of tea seed (Camellia oleifera Abel.) oil.Lee CP, Yen GC. J Agric Food Chem. 2006 Feb 8;54(3):779-84
3. Tea Oil Camellia: a New Edible Oil Crop for the United States. John M. Ruter. University Of Georgia
4. PHYSIOCHEMICAL PROPERTIES AND BIOACTIVITIES OF TEA SEED (Camellia oleifera) OIL. Yen-hui Chen, Clemson University
5. Animal feed compositions and uses of triterpenoid saponin obtained from camellia l. plants. CA 2224663 C
6. Shanghai Institute of Plant Physiology & Ecology, the Chinese Academy of Forestry
7. Characteristics of tea seed oil in comparison with sunflower and olive oils and its effect as a natural antioxidant. Mohammad Ali Sahari, Davood Ataii, Manuchehr Hamedi
8. Analysis on the Main Physical and Chemical Composition of Camellia reticulate f.simpex Seed Oil. Huang Jia-cong et. al.Journal of Southwest Forestry University2010-05