September 8, 2009
Da Yiu or Tea Oil from Fuzhou
A commercial tea oil product found in the market (but not in Miri or Sibu).
Camellia ooleifera (da hua)
My late maternal grandmother Tiong Lian Tie always sang praises of TEA OIL (Da Yiu). Like most Foochows born in China she would use the tea oil both as a balm or as a medicinal food. Because it was hard to come by she never used tea oil for cooking in Nanyang (SArawak). A man having a big cut from an axe could have his bleeding stopped by applying some tea oil. Bad skin problems could also be cured by frequent application of tea oil. And I remember one of my friends told me that she used tea oil to cure her dandruff problems. A lot of Foochow ladies did indeed share with us that their hair was luscious because of frequent application of original tea oil from China.
Nowadays occasionally we get a bit of this special tea oil from relatives coming from China. So we would always have some in the house. My mother likes to use it too. It is not just an oil . It is something that is really mysterious and rich in properties. It stops bleeding and even cures simple tooth ache (before one goes to see a dentist). Ear aches can also be cured by a single small drop of the oil and stomach ache is often cured by half a teaspoon of the oil.
I haven't had tea oil at home for sometime. Yesterday my cousin Nai Hoong had a small amount left of the bottle brought out by his brother from China. Several ladies decided to buy some too. And I managed to buy off a small bottle from him. Lucky me!!
This sets me off thinking about the good properties of tea oil which I learned from my late grandmother. This tea oil should not be confused with tea tree oil which you can buy in Guardian or Watson.
The Chinese tea oil is actually made from Camellia oleifera which grown in mountain areas of Southern China. Many of us would not know that it is a favorite cooking oil in the Southern areas of China.
You will be surprised that the oil's properties include prevention of diabetes, high blood pressure and coronary diseases, and it has antioxidant traits which are known to assist the body in preventing cancer. My grandmother had always known that the Camellia oil is also also good for skin, hair, and nails since many thousand years.
Today most people know that tea oil has much in common with olive oil: the Camellia tree is similar in size and shape as the olive tree, and the oil's health properties are making it a high potential crop for future markets.
Tea oil is of light yellow colour. If someone is selling you tea oil that is white in colour you will know immediately that it is diluted many times.
In fact in many parts of China good chefs like tea oil for its high temperature resistance and because it is almost free of odors and taste (except for a light reminder of green tea aroma.
Camellia Oleifera has a long cultivation history. Long long ago, Chinese people had the tradition of picking mature fruits of camellia oleifera to make edible oil. It is recorded in exordium of Shanhai Jing that has a long history of 2, 300 years: Yuanmu is used by South China to make oil. “Yuanmu” is just camellia oleifera. Due to its unique efficiency for human health and the rarity of its resource.
In the war between Chu and Han, Han’s Emperor Liu Bang was wounded and went to Wuzhi. After he had the camellia oil, his wound was recovered and became stronger, so he appointed it as the court royal food.
After the famous poet Li Shangyin in Tang Dynasty had it, he ever wrote the verse for the oil-tea camellia: “Aromatic nutritious with good taste, one cup brings about spring in Anchang”.
camellia oil is always the designated royal tribute. It was particularly popular during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. During the Ming and Qing Dynasties, only relatives of the emperor had the opportunity to enjoy the good points of camellia oil. This kind of tree, which is exclusively owned by China, so we can say the Chinese camellia oil is the world camellia oil, and is the treasure bestowed by the nature to the land.
Emperor Yongzheng highly praised camellia oil with poems after he tasted it: The camellia oil of Huaiqing is so delicious that no other cate can compare favorable with it. He delivered an imperial order to open up oil-tea camellia houses. Since then, the oil- tea camellia has been prestigious all over the country.
Camellia oil is called “precious product for confinement care” and “oil for confinement care” at Jiangxi, Fujian, Taiwan and etc.From time immemorial, people of Hainan have the habit of taking some camellia oil before drinking.
Sources : Fujing Agrotech Oriental Imp. & Exp. Co., Ltd.
Address: 31/F, Zhongshan Building, 154 Hudong Road, Gulou District, Fuzhou City, Fujian Province, China