Metabolomic unveiling of a diverse range of green tea (Camellia sinensis) metabolites dependent on geography
Authors: Jang-Eun Lee and Bum-Jin Lee and Jin-Oh Chung and Hak-Nam Kim and Eun-Hee Kim and Sungheuk Jung and Hyosang Lee and Sang-Jun Lee and Young-Shick Hong
Numerous factors such as geographical origin, cultivar, climate, cultural practices, and manufacturing processes influence the chemical compositions of tea, in the same way as growing conditions and grape variety affect wine quality. However, the relationships between these factors and tea chemical compositions are not well understood. In this study, a new approach for non-targeted or global analysis, i.e., metabolomics, which is highly reproducible and statistically effective in analysing a diverse range of compounds, was used to better understand the metabolome of Camellia sinensis and determine the influence of environmental factors, including geography, climate, and cultural practices, on tea-making. We found a strong correlation between environmental factors and the metabolome of green, white, and oolong teas from China, Japan, and South Korea. In particular, multivariate statistical analysis revealed strong inter-country and inter-city relationships in the levels of theanine and catechin derivatives found in green and white teas. This information might be useful for assessing tea quality or producing distinct tea products across different locations, and highlights simultaneous identification of diverse tea metabolites through an NMR-based metabolomics approach.