A team of scientists at Assam Agricultural University, Jorhat have reported that oil extracted from the seeds of some of the tea varieties grown in Assam is good for the heart and has high levels of unsaturated fatty acids.
The team studied eight tea seed stocks for their biochemical and physical properties. They found that in as many as seven of them, unsaturated fatty acids constituted for more than 90 per cent of the total fatty acids, from 90.49 per cent to 97.79 per cent. Out of them, five had high levels of mono-unsaturated fatty acids, ranging from 49.56 per cent to 63.86 per cent.
According to the scientists, tea plants produce large seeds. The kernels, which make up about 70 percent of the tea seed weight, are rich in oil. It can be stored easily. It can also be a source of antioxidants and emollients for skin care.
The new study assumes particular importance for India in the context of the growing gap between the demand and the domestic availability of edible oils in the country and also since there is an increasing demand for oil with high nutritive values. Considering that India is one of the largest producers of tea in the world, use of tea seed to produce edible oil could turn out to be a win-win situation.