The Camellia

Although you may not know the name “camellia,” there is a good chance that it is a part of your life! In Chinese, it is called the “tea flower” cháhuā 茶花. One variety of camellia, camellia sinensis, is the plant that ALL tea is made from! There are two main varieties, but, whether you drink black, green, white, or oolong… these, and more, are made from camelia sinensis leaves. It is the different processing of the leaves that produces a variety of types of tea.

There are over one hundred species of camellia, native to southern and eastern Asia. It is a fast growing evergreen, either a shrub or small tree.

In Asia, camellia, or tea seed oil, is also well known. This is made from pressing the seeds of some varieties of camellia plants. It is a very healthy oil, used in cooking and beauty products. I have used this oil for years after doing some research when I first heard of it. But…don’t confuse camellia/tea seed oil with tea tree oil, which is totally different!

Camellias are also used as ornamental plants, and the flowers are beautiful! As I’ve walked along the lake over the past week, I see they are starting to bloom, so I wanted to share some pictures. They are found in white, many shades of pink, red, yellow, or variegated, and can have single or double flowers.

I'm not sure which varieties these are, but they are currently blooming along Songshan Lake. 

This one was identified as camellia japonica.

Here is a small tree covered with flower buds! Can't wait for the coming weeks!

Both of the variegated flowers above were photographed at the Shenzhen Expo Garden in February of last year.

I saved my favorite for last! The above was taken last March in Taipa, Macau.... I think they are just perfect!