Tea, one of the world's most important beverage crops, provides numerous secondary metabolites that account for the rich taste and health-promoting benefits to human beings. Here, we present the genome sequence of cultivated tea, Camellia sinensis. At least 74% of the 3.1-Gb tea genome assembly consists of repetitive sequences, and the rest yields 33,282 high quality predictions of encoded proteins. Gene duplication or expansion events frequently occur in several key genes, whose expression patterns can be associated with catechin accumulation in tea plant tissues. A large acyltransferase gene family was identified in the tea genome and was associated with the biosynthesis of galloylated catechins, key flavor molecules. Expression of LAR genes is significantly correlated with the accumulation of cis-flavan-3-ols, but not trans-flavan-3-ols. The analyses also identified a gene that appears to encode the tea theanine synthetase, responsible for the synthesis of the amino acid theanine that provides the savory (umami) flavor to tea. This tea genome sequence will facilitate understanding of the biosynthesis of bioactive metabolites and will promote germplasm utilization for breeding better tea plants.

Enjoy some photos of cultivation of tea: