Essential oils are extracted from the leaves, stems, flowers, bark, roots, seeds or other parts of a plant. They are the extremely concentrated essence of a plant and are used sparingly for a wide variety of purposes. Green Tea essential oil is extracted from the seeds of the green tea plant, Camellia Sinensis, and is also called Camellia Oil or Tea Seed oil. Its properties lend it both therapeutic, cosmetic and health benefits.
History of Green Tea
Green tea has been consumed in Asian countries such as India, China, Japan and Thailand for almost 5,000 years. It has been used as a stimulant, an astringent, a diuretic, to treat flatulence, to regulate body temperature and blood sugar, to promote digestion, and to improve mental and heart health.
Biological Classification and Identification
Green tea belongs to the genus Camellia Sinensis of the Theaceae family. The green tea plant is a large shrub with white flowers and green tea is produced by rapidly drying the leaves of the plant. If the same leaves are fermented and then dried, the product obtained is black tea. Oolong tea, the third variety, is obtained by only partially fermenting the leaves before drying them.
Extraction of Oil
There are several processes that are employed to extract essential oil. The most common is the method of steam distillation. In this method, the leaves are placed in a plant chamber and pressurized steam is circulated through the chamber. This releases the essential oil. The vaporized oil along with the steam then passes through a tube to a condensation chamber. Here, the condensed oil forms a film over the condensed steam. The oil is then decanted. The leaves of the green tea plant, however, yield very little oil, and tea seed oil is therefore extracted from the seeds of the plant.
The method used to extract the green tea essential oil from the seeds is called cold-pressing. The seeds are first air dried and then pressed in an oil press. The golden colored oil that is released is then processed to make it suitable for use.
Enfleurage, solvent extraction, turbo distillation, carbon-dioxide extraction and hydro diffusion extraction are other methods used to extract essential oils from plant material.
Green tea essential oil has many useful properties that make it beneficial. First, it can be used as an astringent. This means it has the property to constrict and shrink body tissue. Second, it is an antioxidant. This means it neutralizes free radicals in the body. Free radicals occur naturally in the body, but are also produced by exposure to ultraviolet rays, radiation, cigarette smoke and air pollution. They are responsible for cell and DNA damage. Tea seed oil also has anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties as it inhibits the breakdown of collagen that is responsible for keeping the skin firm and elastic.
Green tea essential oil, and green tea leaves are widely used because of their beneficial properties. Green tea oil is used in the cosmetics industry to manufacture creams, soaps, shampoos, hair conditioners, lotions, perfumes and massage oils, because of its anti-aging, anti-inflammatory and astringent properties.
It is also used as a therapeutic oil in aromatherapy. Five drops of tea seed oil mixed in 10 ml of carrier oil can be added to a warm bath to relax the muscles. Six drops can be added to water and used in a tea light oil burner or electric oil diffuser to create a soothing environment. Another common use for green tea essential oil is to make candles and potpourri because of its soothing properties.
Green tea essential oil is also suitable for consumption, and can be used in cooking. Green tea leaves can be infused in boiling water and sipped. It is believed to reduce the severity of an asthma attack by relaxing the muscles that support the bronchial tubes. The polyphenols in green tea neutralize harmful free radicals and are regarded to be 200 times stronger than Vitamin E. They are believed to possess properties that protect against cancer. Green tea is rich in Vitamins A, B, and E. Green tea is used as an alternative medicine to treat dyssentry, gastroentritis, and hepatitis. It is believed to lower LDL, or bad cholesterol and raise HDL, or good cholesterol. Green tea is believed to also protect the liver and to benefit diabetic patients. Moreover, green tea protects the teeth and enamel by preventing plaque formation. It is also believed to fight the flu virus and inhibits the breakdown of collagen and hence keeps wrinkles at bay.
Green tea essential oil can interfere with blood thinning medication, and should therefore be consumed under a physician's guidance. It can interfere with the absorption of other medicines and should therefore not be consumed along with these. Application and consumption of green tea essential oil is not recommended for women who are pregnant or are nursing.
Parul Gupta has been writing since 1993. Her work has appeared in "Discover India" magazine and in newspapers "The Telegraph," "The Times of India," "The Statesman," and "Hindustan Times." She is based in the U.K., and holds a Master of Arts in literature from the University of Leeds.