Tea (Camellia sinensis L.) is a perennial woody plant that is widely cultivated to produce a popular non-alcoholic beverage; this beverage has received much attention due to its pleasant flavor and bioactive ingredients, particularly several important secondary metabolites. Due to the significant changes in the metabolite contents of the buds and the young expanding leaves of tea plants, high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) analysis and isobaric tags for relative and absolute quantitation (iTRAQ) analysis were performed. A total of 233 differentially expressed proteins were identified. Among these, 116 proteins were up-regulated and 117 proteins were down-regulated in the young expanding leaves compared with the buds. A large array of diverse functions was revealed, including roles in energy and carbohydrate metabolism, secondary metabolite metabolism, nucleic acid and protein metabolism, and photosynthesis- and defense-related processes. These results suggest that polyphenol biosynthesis- and photosynthesis-related proteins regulate the secondary metabolite content of tea plants. The energy and antioxidant metabolism-related proteins may promote tea leaf development. However, reverse transcription quantitative real-time PCR (RT-qPCR) showed that the protein expression levels were not well correlated with the gene expression levels. These findings improve our understanding of the molecular mechanism of the changes in the metabolite content of the buds and the young expanding leaves of tea plants.