Sunday, June 17, 2012

Tea Seed Oil

Tea seed oil is a delicious cooking oil made from cold pressed tea seeds. The most common tea plant used is Camellia oleifera. Like most other natural, unrefined, plant-based oils, it can be considered a very healthy addition to one's diet.

My first experience with tea seed oil was nearly ten years ago when Jason Chen, a local tea mentor of mine, began to import, promote and distribute the product around Seattle. Teacup (the shop I worked for at that time) carried Jason's oil and I purchased a few bottles. I found it to be very tasty and enjoyable but despite our best efforts the market was not quite ready for another exotic, pricey, gourmet cooking oil.

I haven't had any tea oil for many years but I just recently discovered a new company called Arette Food Inc. that is selling their own line of high quality organic tea oils. Thanks to my wife's connections in the nutrition world I was able to sample their pure, unflavored tea seed oil.

I poured about a teaspoon of Arette's oil into a teacup and sipped it slowly. It is not nutty like some oils and it doesn't have the complexity or peppery finish that great olive oil possesses. What is does have is a sweet, fresh and creamy flavor that I think is wonderful. This oil, with its high smoke point (485 °F ) and long shelf life, is different and versatile enough to warrant a spot in my cabinet next to other oil staples such as olive, sesame and coconut but its higher price may make it a "rare treat" or "fancy gift" for the time being.


Alex Zorach said...

I've read of this oil but have yet to try it. Yours is the first personal account of it that I've read!

I do like trying unusual oils; I have quite a few oils in my cupboard, and use them for all sorts of things. One of my favorites is also quite expensive: hemp seed oil. I keep it in the fridge because it does not store well, but I find it has a delightfully nutty flavor, and it supposedly has a very good balance of omega 3 to omega 6 fats. It also is bright green, much greener than olive oil!

This tea would be interesting, in that it would be more usable for cooking. (Hemp seed is not). But I tend to only use more inexpensive oils in cooking.

Steph said...

Excellent! I had a bottle of it from Republic of Tea many moons ago...and have been on the lookout.