Three-year-old clonal potted seedlings of the ‘LongJing43’ cultivar, which were planted in the greenhouse of the Tea Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (TRI, CAAS, N30°10′, E120°5′), were used for tissue-specific analysis. Tissues including roots, stems, mature leaves, tender leaves, and seeds were sampled and quickly frozen in liquid nitrogen to store at − 80 °C. Three independent biological replicates were performed, and each replicate contained three seedlings with similar growth states.

One-year-old clonal potted seedlings of the ‘LongJing43’ cultivar, which were cultivated at the experimental base of Qingdao Agricultural University (QAU, N36°33′, E120°4′), were employed for cold, drought, salt, and hormones treatments. Before treatment, all seedlings were cultured in a growth chamber under the following growth conditions: temperature, 23 ± 0.5 °C; lighting time, 14 h/10 h (light/dark); and humidity, 75%. Cuttings with the same growth potential were used to process different treatments as described by Qian et al. (2016) [46] with some modifications. For cold treatment (CT), the temperature of the growth chamber was plummeted to 4 °C without changing any other growth conditions. PEG-6000 (10% (w/v)) and 250 mmol·L− 1 NaCl were used to imitate drought (DT) and salt treatment, respectively. To proceed hormone treatments, 100 μmol·L− 1 ABA and 100 μmol·L− 1 GA were sprayed onto the surfaces of tea leaves. During stress treatment periods, the other aspects of the growth conditions were maintained the same as the control. All of these treatments were carried out for 2 d, with samples of the third and/or fourth mature leaves from the terminal bud being taken at 0, 12, 24 and 48 h after treatment. For each stress treatment, the samples collected at the 0 h time point were taken as controls. All samples were quickly frozen in liquid nitrogen and stored at − 80 °C. Each stress treatment contained three biological replicates.

A cold-resistant cultivar, ‘LongJing43’, and a cold-susceptible cultivar, ‘DaMianBai’, as reported by Wang et al. (2019) [87], were used for natural cold acclimation (CA) analysis in 2018–2019. Both tea cultivars were 18 years old and cultivated at the Tea Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (TRI, CAAS, N30°10′, E120°5′). The sampling methods were performed as described by Qian et al. (2018) [49].

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