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Tea seed oil is also known as tea oil or camellia oil. It is edible and has virtually no aroma or taste. Obtained by cold pressing the Camellia Oleifera plant's leaves, it is similar in appearance to grapeseed oil or olive oil. This oil should not be confused with tea tree oil which is an entirely different thing.
Valued as a cooking oil for its especially high flash point, tea seed oil can be heated to very high temperatures before it combusts or begins to break down and lose nutritional value. Because of its ability to withstand heat, it is perfect for cooking processes using extreme temperatures like popping corn or stir-frying meat and vegetables. It has been used as a cooking staple in China for centuries.
Because of its neutral flavor and absence of a strong smell, tea seed oil does not alter or mask the taste of the foods cooked in it. It is commonly used in salad dressings, dips, marinades and sauces. It can be purchased for prices comparable to other cooking oils.
Another benefit to tea seed oil is that it is very healthy and can add nutritional value to foods cooked with it. Rich in vitamins and minerals, it contains high levels of vitamins A, B, and E. It is also a good source of the minerals phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, and iron manganese. It is low in saturated fat and high in antioxidants. Having a long shelf life, it keeps for a considerable length of time and is best stored in a tightly sealed contained kept in a cool dry place.
Although primarily considered a cooking oil, tea seed oil has many other uses. Added to soaps, it is thought to help moisturize the skin. It is easily absorbed and does not leave the greasy feeling left by other oils. It is often applied directly to skin in its original form. In China especially, it is commonly used in balms, lotions and creams.
China has long valued tea seed oil for its healing properties. Used on cuts and burns, it is thought to promote healing as well as moisturize. Ancient Chinese culture makes mention of beautiful Chinese women brushing tea seed oil into their shiny black hair.