The residue of Camellia seeds after oil extraction contains many bioactive ingredients, including tea saponin. Tea saponin has many pharmacological effects and is an excellent nonionic surfactant. The development of natural surfactants has become a hot topic in food research. This review gathers the applications of tea saponin as a surfactant in food. It focuses on the application of tea saponin in emulsions, delivery systems, extraction and fermentation, as well as the challenges and development prospects in food applications. Tea saponin shows great potential as a surfactant in food applications, which can replace some synthetic surfactants. The full utilization of tea saponin improves the comprehensive utilization value of Camellia seed residue, contributes to the sustainable development of Camellia industry and avoids resource waste.
Keywords: Tea saponin; delivery systems; emulsifier; food applications; surfactant.