A fascinating fact is that these beautiful plants are the ones used for the making of tea. All tea, whether black, green, white or oolong is made from varieties of this one plant-the Camellia sinensis. The flowers on this particular plant are white and smaller than those of the Camellia japonica, which is the one that is more readily available at your local garden centre.
For the making of tea, the leaves or leaf tips of the Camellia plant are picked and fermented in great mounds and then rolled and dried out, or slow roasted. I was fascinated to learn that it is the process that these leaves go through that determines whether the tea ultimately becomes black tea, green tea, white tea, oolong or pu-erh tea. Essentially the result comes down to the length of oxidation the Camellia leaves are allowed to undergo-more oxidation will result in black or dark coloured teas such as pu-erh teas and less oxidation will give green or white teas. Fascinating.
Apart from the making of our morning cup of tea the Camellia plant has many other uses. Pressing the seed can make a fantastic oil which is used for frying in Asia as it has a high smoke point and is ideal for salads and sauces as it has a delicate flavour. The cold pressed Camellia oil is also used as a beauty product for skin and hair. Japanese Geishas use the oil which is rich in omega 9, for their amazingly glossy hair.