Theanine and Caffeine – 50 Cent Smart Drugs

by Dan Walsh

Extra brain power for only 50 cents a day.

Theanine and caffeine are a potent nootropic combination. It’s also one of the cheapest and safest options on the market. I started experimenting with it in September and it has quickly become one of my favorite brain-boosting supplements. And because theanine only costs about .50 cents per day, I’ve been recommending it to anyone who will listen. What the hell is this miracle pill?

Theanine is an amino acid found naturally in tea leaves. It was successfully isolated and turned into a supplement by Kyoto scientists in 1950 and is classified by the FDA as “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS). GRAS is the same classification used for items like salt, flour, and baking soda. Studies on rats have shown that repeated, extremely high doses of theanine cause little to no physical or psychological damage. It is remarkably safe, especially considering how effective it is.

In simple terms, theanine is a mild sedative. When taken on its own, theanine will reduce mental and physical stress. It is commonly taken before bed as a way to relax and fall into quality sleep.  It has no risk of addiction, and I have yet to hear of users building a tolerance as is the case with other natural supplements like melatonin. I have used it to great effect as a sleep aid, and also as a meditation aid. My favorite use, however, is almost the complete opposite.

When theanine is taken with caffeine, the compounds combine to a create a synergistic effect that boosts mood and cognitive performance. Theanine is like a focusing lens for the stimulating properties of caffeine. Concentration improves, all those mile-a-minute ideas slow down a bit, and my caffeine jitters disappear. I supplement my morning bulletproof coffee with theanine every day.

The correct theanine to caffeine ratio is important to create the desired effect. I have found that pourover coffee requires 400 – 200 mg of theanine to achieve synergistic nootropic results. Weaker coffee requires less, though the specific amounts vary from person to person. In addition to my morning intake, I sometimes take 100mg with a cup of afternoon black tea or an espresso. Espresso and tea have less caffeine so they require a lower dose. Because tea naturally contains theanine, I’ve opted for black tea due to its higher caffeine content. On the few occasions that I’ve paired green tea with theanine it produced more relaxation than concentration. If I have consumed caffeine in the late afternoon, I won’t take theanine as a sleep aid because it paradoxically results in my lying awake, concentrating on nothing, instead of relaxing into sleep. I typically consume caffeine in the afternoon, so I don’t usually use theanine as a sleep aid.

I buy the NOW Foods L-Theanine 100mg caps on Amazon for $15. The bottle lasts me about 30 days.


Morning: 200mg with coffee.

Afternoon: 100mg with black tea.