There is a lot of confusion about Chinese Tea Tree Oil in the market as it's a product most recognisable from Australia.
Chinese have a 'tea oil' is derived from the seeds of Camellia oleifera or Camellia sinensis. It is used extensively in China as edible cooking oil and contains 80-90% oleic acid. This causes the confusion as to do the various reports in the market suggesting any Chinese Tea Tree Oil is in fact a synthetic compound.
Both of the above could be true however the Chinese also have Melaleuca alternifolia which was planted using seeds from Australia. This yields similar results to that oil from Australia however in the global arena China only contributes to around 15% of global production.
Typically their seed selection has been good yielding high terpinen-4-ol and low 1,8-cineole, which are two of the main criteria for selecting a good oil. The potential issue will be upcoming changes to the ISO specification which will test the Chinese quality on the perceived 'adulteration' issues. If they can overcome this it will ensure they have a strong future as a genuine producer, if they don't, then there will be two different tea tree qualities in the marketplace.
Tea tree itself has a long history in the medicinal and aromatherapy markets. You can read more about the history and uses in our Elementary Essential Oils pages by clicking the side bar.
Markets remain stable with demand constant in recent years. Demand tends to increase when Australian prices rise but the weak Australian Dollar has created cheaper export prices in recent times despite local prices increasing.
As always, China exports vastly different qualities of Tea Tree Oil and so called ‘Tea Tree Oil’ so buyers should take care when comparing with the industry standards from Australia.
This year saw growing areas increase once again but with the general demand for tea tree from all origins growing the market for Chinese origin oil remains fairly balanced.
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