Although camellia plants are best known for producing tea, camellia flowers are also edible. For instance, they can be used as salad garnishes or cake decorations. In some Asian countries, camellia flowers are also pickled or used as vegetables. In this article, we’ll uncover a range of edible uses for camellia flowers and the best varieties to pick.
Are Camellia Flowers Edible?
Camellia sinensis, also known as the tea plant, is the main camellia species used to make tea. Depending on how the leaves are processed, this species is used to produce black tea, green tea, and oolong tea.
In Japanese cuisine, camellia flowers are used to make a dessert called mochi. Glutinous rice is pounded into a paste and combined with water, cornstarch, or sugar to make a rice cake. Many mochi recipes use camellia leaves and flowers as decorations or wrapping.
Tsubaki is the Japanese word for ‘camellia,’ so mochi cakes made using camellias are called tsubaki-mochi. This type of mochi is wrapped in camellia leaves and contains other ingredients like sweet bean paste.
Camellia seeds can be pressed to extract tea oil, also known as tsubaki oil. This oil is used for cooking or as a seasoning to add sweetness.
Do Camellia Flowers Have Medicinal Benefits?
Camellia flowers, leaves, and seeds may have several medicinal benefits. When used as leaf extract or oil, camellia contains lots of vitamins, including A, D, and E. Camellia leaves used to make tea also provide caffeine.
By providing caffeine and some antioxidants, camellia can be beneficial for our skin. Camellia extract can also lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Some of the compounds in camellia plants, including catechins, may even reduce the risk of certain cancers.
Camellia extract may also reduce stress and anxiety levels. This is mainly because of L-theanine, an amino acid commonly found in green tea. L-theanine can encourage the brain to produce extra dopamine and serotonin, helping us feel better.
How to Harvest Camellia Flowers
Although camellia flowers are edible, it’s essential to select the right flowers to use. Always choose flowers that look healthy and clean. Avoid any flowers that show signs of diseases or pests.
Here’s a quick guide to harvesting camellia flowers:
- Make sure that you use clean, sharp cutting tools such as secateurs. This limits the risk of spreading diseases between plants.
- Choose camellia flowers that look clean and healthy. Don’t harvest any flowers that are suffering from a disease.
- Cut just above a new bud to allow the plant to produce more flowers.
- Remove the leaves. Then hang the flowers somewhere to dry.
You can also harvest camellia flowers to use as cut flowers. Simply take a longer cutting, strip away the leaves, and place it into a vase.
How to Harvest Camellia Leaves
You can also grow camellia plants to produce your own tea leaves. Usually, this means growing Camellia sinensis. These evergreen shrubs grow best in USDA Zones 6 to 9. Camellia plants take a while to mature, so only harvest leaves from shrubs that are at least two years old.
Here’s a brief guide to harvesting camellia leaves:
- Always use clean, sharp cutting tools to prevent the spread of disease.
- Select younger leaves or buds in the spring. Only harvest the two newest leaves and leaf buds towards the tips of each stem.
- Allow the harvested leaves to dry. Depending on how you do this, you can use camellia leaves to make black, green, or oolong tea.
Edible Camellia Flowers FAQs:
Can Any Camellia Be Used for Tea?
The main camellia species used to produce tea is Camellia sinensis. However, other species can be used as substitutes.
Are Camellia Flowers Poisonous to Humans?
Camellia flowers are not poisonous to humans. Camellia flowers are edible and make attractive salad garnishes.
What Can You Use Camellia Flowers For?
As well as tea, camellia flowers make excellent cut flowers. Camellia extract can also be used on the skin.
Camellia leaves are famous for producing tea. However, camellia flowers are also edible. In Japan, camellia is often used to make mochi rice cake desserts.
Edd is a budding content writer and gardener living in the United Kingdom. He has a bachelor's degree in Creative and Professional Writing and has written for several gardening publications online. He is passionate about nature and sustainability with a focus on gardening and wildlife.