Obtained by steam distillation from foliage and terminal branchlets of Melaleuca alternifolia.
Tea tree grows in both New South Wales and Northern Queensland, almost entirely in modern day plantations. Some wild harvesting still occurs but this only contributes a small amount of the 650+ MT that Australia produces annually.
The industry is well regulated and as the original producer of tea tree, Australia standards are highly regarded as the best quality. The harvest period starts in May and lasts until November.
From seed to harvest usually takes around 12-15 months and trees will grow to around 2 metres high. The tree is then cut from just above the ground and the leaves are steam distilled in a process that takes around 1.5-2.0 hours per batch of around 250 kilos. Tea tree will regenerate quickly and over the next 2-3 years will yield higher levels of oil each year and establish a stronger root network ensuring it becomes more resilient to adverse weather conditions. Some more mature trees can yield higher levels of 1,8-cineole, which is undesirable so re-planting can occur every 6-7 years however the tree itself could live over 25 years.
Read more about this amazing essential oil by clicking on our Elementary Essential Oil link in the sidebar.
Favourable weather conditions along with sufficient rainfall have led to positive forecasts, indicating a sizeable harvest in 2018. This season’s harvest saw increased volumes of around 10-15% compared to last year resulting in good supply. Demand for this product continues to increase in the same manner. The market appears fairly stable with price and supply at an even balance, attracting more industry users to this natural essential oil. Besides quality, the oil yield per hectare has also improved. The chief producers have already finished producing and harvesting, unlike small farmers who are still continuing crop processing and harvesting. Golden Grove Naturals (GGN) has planted new varieties of tea tree, which could give a yield of 500 kg/hectare in the next two years, beating the industry average.
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