Camellia seed oil, or more commonly known as tea seed oil, is a carrier oil commonly used to dilute essential oil blends. Unlike most carrier oils, however, this one has a shelf life of only one to two years, is not greasy, and is more rapidly absorbed by the skin. Camellia seed oil, while mostly used as a cooking oil by the Chinese, is actually full of health benefits when used topically, too.
The first evidence of camellia seed cultivation was unearthed in China. It is believed to be around 3,500-5,000 years old. Camellia was first cultivated as tea, and little is known about when the oil was first cultivated. Black, white, and green teas, which all come from the same plant, were highly regarded among the Chinese as medicinal and drank commonly throughout history. In Europe, it was first introduced in Portugal around the 16th century. When it spread to England, it was said that the climate was not favorable for cultivation - so they built greenhouses, hoping to cultivate camellia plants for their royalty.
Camellia Oleifera and Camellia sinensis trees produce camellia seed oil as we know it - however, they also produce black, white, and green teas which are commonly sold throughout the world. The tea seed oil plant is a tree with long, evergreen leaves and flowers that bloom in pink and white. Tea trees grow primarily in Southeast Asia, and are extensively cultivated there.
The oil produced is a pale yellow or golden amber color, with medium viscosity.
The aroma of tea tree oil is perceived differently. Some say it smells lightly of green tea; others say that it smells a bit like balsamic vinegar. While these may be true, the aroma is very light, making it ideal for blending.
Very few safety concerns exist, although this oil can commonly be confused with Tea Tree oil, or Melaleuca alternafolia. The two are NOT the same, as tea tree oil is highly volatile in large doses. Use caution when purchasing.