An evergreen shrub of stiff habit, or a small tree, said to be up to 25 ft high in a wild state. Leaves stiff and leathery, often inclined to obovate, 11⁄2 to 3 in. long, tapered to both ends, rather regularly toothed, glabrous except for the very short stalk which is occasionally hairy. Flowers mostly from the terminal leaf-axils, 2 to 21⁄2 in. across, petals white, appearing from November to February; bud-scales downy to densely silky. Fruits about 1 in. long. Bot. Mag., n.s., t. 221.
Native of China, long cultivated but nowadays often confounded with C. sasanqua which differs from C. oleifera in the thinner, blunter-pointed leaves, its much less downy flower-bud scales and smaller fruits. Both are hardy at Kew against a wall and both flower in winter. The species is widely grown in China for the oil – tea-oil – expressed from the seeds, which is of great commercial importance, this and tea-oil cake being used for toiletries and also in cooking.