Cooking with Tea Oil

Many of you will know essential tea tree oils that esoteric shops of all sorts usually sell. But what about edible tea oil?

Whenever I go to Taiwan, I am invited at least by one or two tea farmers to join them for lunch/dinner in their home and chat and invariably they offer what seems to be every tea farmer’s staple food: Thin noodles with tea oil. Before I was served this beautifully simple dish for the first time last year by my friend Mr. Ou for breakfast, I hadn’t heard of its existence. But ever since that day, I’ve seen it many times in supermarkets, rural cooperatives and tea exhibitions. And while I was browsing through my neighbourhood Taiwanese supermarket here in Shanghai, I found a bottle and decided to buy it. Hence this article.

Tea Oil 2 Tea Oil 3 Tea Oil 4

Tea oil, often also called Bitter Tea Oil (苦茶油 – ku3 cha2 you2), is usually cold pressed from the seed of Camellia Sinensis. It has a very aromatic flavour and is much sweeter compared to other oils that one usually finds in Western and Eastern cuisine. Together with thin noodles as often served in Taiwan, it is a perfect snack for in between or a full meal for lunch or dinner.

And apparently it’s quite good for the body, as well, as it has a low content of saturated fat, a characteristic usually associated with olive oil. Moreover, it contains no natural trans fats. It’s high in vitamin E, other antioxidants and monosaturated oleic acid comprises a high percentage of the fatty acids.

So, for all of you who are looking to add new flavours to your commonly known dishes, tea seed oil might be worth a try.



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