The Power of Tea
Tea? Sure, that's coffee's weaker sister. When coffee's friends come over, coffee ties tea to the towel rack by her pigtails and shuts the door. At least that's what people think. The reality is that tea has some pretty amazing cognitive and health benefits that rival or surpass coffee's, especially when you know how to manipulate it.
The Force is Strong in This Amino Acid
Tea's powers lie largely in the L-Theanine it contains, which is a non-essential amino acid. Heck, it's not even one of the common nonessential amino acids. Instead, it's considered a nondietary amino acid, similar to L-Ornithine or L-Citrulline.
Theanine, which develops in the roots of tea plants and then accrues in the leaves, is also a powerful nootropic, or smart drug. It has a long list of medicinal benefits, too:
- Relieves anxiety and depression
- Lowers blood pressure
- Protects the liver from alcohol
- Improves vascular function
- Acts as an anti-diabetic
- Helps maintain normal sleep
- Reduces menstrual discomfort
- Reduces serum cholesterol
However, it's most highly regarded for its effects on mental sharpness, anxiety, and mood in general. Things get kind of magical, though, when you have a drink where it's combined with caffeine, as is the case with most varieties of tea.
Caffeine and Theanine, Brothers in Arms
When theanine is combined with caffeine, or any nootropic, you get a synergy that results in much quicker reaction times and better memory recollection, along with increased mental speed and accuracy. That means that you're able to solve problems quicker, or more easily dig out and retrieve those elusive facts that tend to hide somewhere within the folds of your brain.
Instead of being a kitty mesmerized by the catnip on a string known as YouTube or Facebook, your mind becomes your own. And with better concentration comes better workouts and better everything.
And fear not the negative side effects of caffeine, like nervousness and jitters, because theanine ameliorates them. In other words, theanine accentuates and enhances the good aspects of coffee while squelching the bad.
What's the Catch?
Everything I said about the combination of theanine and caffeine in tea is true. However, the optimum I-want-superpowers dosage for theanine is generally about 200 mg. (but everybody's got a different sweet spot).
The trouble is, the average cup of tea contains around 24 mg. of theanine. While that dosage will still do all the things you want it to do, it's often literally a kind of weak brew.
What's the Solution?
There are a few things you can do to supercharge your brain with theanine:
- You could steep your tea in 175 degree water for 30 minutes, which Australian scientists have determined is the best combo to extract the maximum amount of theanine. Of course, that requires patience and a small, portable thermonuclear device that will keep your tea heated.
- You could choose to drink shade-grown green teas like Gyokuro or Matcha, which might have as much as 46 mg. of theanine per cup.
- You could drink 8 cups of average tea (or 4 cups of Gyokuro or Matcha) over the course of a day, thereby ingesting roughly 200 mg. of theanine but causing your bladder to explode.
- You could buy theanine in capsule form and swallow them down with tea or coffee.
- You could settle for just drinking the occasional normal cup of tea here and there and getting sub-optimal amounts of theanine. You'd still enjoy the beneficial effects, but on a more subtle level.
- You could take a sophisticated nootropic supplement that contains theanine and other highly effective nootropic substances. The supplement called Brain Candy® is a top choice. (The theanine, aside from having its own super cognitive powers, enhances the power of other nootropics.)
This would of course be much more potent than any tea or tea-plus-theanine capsule combination.