Over 100 species of plants make up the Camellia genus, but it’s just Camellia Sinensis that is the source of commercially grown tea now enjoyed the world over. There are six significant tea types produced form this including green, white, oolong, yellow, and black.
For generations the distinctive tastes and aromas of various teas have been known about but it is only now, with a Chinese research project by the Kunming Institute of Botany to fully map the tea genome that the complexity of tea is being understood. This took more than five years to do and there are apparently three billion DNA base pairs identified making tea four times bigger than the already mapped coffee genome, and larger still than most plants already sequenced.
It is hoped that further investigation of the tea genome could lead to a better understanding of the various tea tastes and aromas, the possibility of modifying this to give a broader range of product as well as potentially giving higher yields or more robust growth.
Tea adds to a number of food and drink crops now fully mapped for DNA including coffee, bananas, tomatoes and potatoes.
Oh, and to put three billion in perspectives it is often quoted that a billion minutes ago Jesus walked the earth!
Written by: Colin from KSV.