How This Project Began
The tea industry in Japan has been in a slight decline in recent years due to the dwindling interest of consumers in loose leaf teas. In addition, as tea farmers age and struggle to find successors for their businesses, the acreage for tea farms are decreasing every year and some of the farms that still exist are unattended. Hence, we saw the need to develop an innovative tea plant product that offers something of value other than a beverage.
Tea comes from plants whose seeds contain a high quality oil. So, we wondered if we could extract oil from seeds of tea plants to develop 100% tea seed oil similar to camellia oil and olive oil. Such a product would create new opportunities for tea grown in Shizuoka and appeal to people of different generations across Japan. The market for tea seeds would also strengthen the network of tea farmers, and the otherwise-abandoned tea farms could be better utilized to grow this new agricultural product. We thought the ultimate goal would contribute to the revitalization of tea producing regions.
A growing number of today's health-conscious consumers prefer olive oil, coconut oil and other natural, plant-based oils over animal fats, and we found through a composition study that tea seed oil is rich in vitamin E, oleic acid and other beneficial substances.
Gold Tea Oil bottoleAfter several years of diligent testing, research, site visits, etc., we successfully commercialized the tea seed oil extraction. Our parent company, Shirakata-Denshiro Shoten, Inc. (SDS) obtained a business license as a "manufacturer of edible fat and oil." Our Gold Tea Oil is produced in our factory by extracting oil from tea seeds using our own seed press. Our business partners include experts in food research and development institutes and other experts working in academia and private sectors in Shizuoka.
A brief chronology of events includes:
2015 Obtained a business license as a "manufacturer of edible fat and oil."
2015 Approved by Shizuoka Prefecture as a management innovation business.
2016 Certified by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry as a business to operate with regional industrial resources.
Winner of Special Judges' Prize, 2017 Seasoning Championship organized by Japan Vegetable Sommelier Association
Winner of Gold Prize, Fujinokuni New Product Selection
Winner of Grand Prize, 2018 Good Design Shizuoka (Shizuoka Governor's Award)
Featured on many TV programs in Japan
Working with Farms
We purchase tea seeds from tea farmers at the same price as tea leaves to boost their income, prevent tea farms from being abandoned, and protect the beauty of tea fields that attract many visitors to Shizuoka. Tea seeds are harvested in October through December. In partnerships with tea farmers and agricultural cooperatives across Shizuoka, we have a system in place to ensure stable yields of tea seeds.
Working with the Community
We are also working with welfare facilities to train skilled workers for the production of the oil. The "House of Yamakko" trains disabled young adults in jobs involving light work. In one such training they learn to sort the tea seeds that SDS supplies for processing. It is simple but important task for making good quality oil.
Benefits of Gold Tea Oil
by Isao Tomita, Doctor of Pharmacology, Emeritus Professor, University of Shizuoka
Comparison with Other Edible Oils
Compared to the chemical compositions of other edible oils, Gold Tea Oil (tea seed oil) is rich in oleic acid, which is a monovalent unsaturated fatty acid commonly found in olive oil. Gold Tea Oil also contains linoleic acid, a divalent unsaturated fatty acid, by twice the amount found in olive oil. Overall, Gold Tea Oil has a fatty acid composition similar to that of peanut oil. (Refer to Table 1)
Gold Tea Oil as Antioxidant
Gold Tea Oil (tea seed oil) is higher in antioxidant activity than other edible oils, partly because it is rich in oleic acid that demonstrates resistance to oxidation, and partly because it contains β-carotene, which is a precursor to vitamin A known for its antioxidative property, as well as vitamin E and CoQ10, as shown in Table 1. Gold Tea Oil shows antioxidant activity equivalent to the one of theaflavin gallate (TFG-A) among other antioxidative substances.
CoQ10 in Gold Tea Oil
It was discovered that Gold Tea Oil (tea seed oil) contains CoQ10, a coenzyme that coexists with vitamins E and C to protect our body from the harmful effects of active oxygen. Our body produces active oxygen for different reasons including stress, and this active oxygen is known to act on sugars, proteins (including enzymes), DNA, etc., to cause various diseases as well as aging. CoQ10 present in Gold Tea Oil, is believed to inhibit these harmful reactions of active oxygen to protect our health. (Refer to Figures 1 and 2)
All above research data courtesy of Isao Tomita [Doctor of Pharmacology, Emeritus Professor, University of Shizuoka]