I Tried Theanine Powder to Hack My Morning Routine, and I'm Never Going Back

The supplement is every coffee lover's — and hater's — secret weapon.

Unsplash / Nathan Dumlao

Something I do every morning as soon as I wake up is open Instagram and see the pictures/stories all my friends (who get up at normal adult hours) have already posted of their coffees. Intricately-designed latte arts, jumbo iced offerings from Dunkin Donuts, pour-over sludge in a handcrafted stone mug, you name it. I envy these people, because not only are they enjoying a nice cup of java, but they will probably not sorely pay for it later.

There are two types of people in this world: people who love coffee, and people who love coffee but hate the side effects. I wish I were strong enough to pound eight cups a day and become a productivity machine, but instead, more than two cups in the morning reduces me to an anxious, shivering wreck by lunchtime.

Maybe you’re like me — or maybe you’re normal. Either way, I’ve found something that allows even the most sensitive of us to boost our caffeine intake without becoming husks of the people we once were: L-Theanine powder.

It feels like L-Theanine is promising you the world: Put just a quarter-to-half a teaspoon in your coffee will let you enjoy all the focus and energy without the jitters and constant worry and other side effects. It may sound too good to be true, and the fine print of the supplement/nootropics game is still up for raging debate. But I’m here to tell you that even if this is complete pseudoscience placebo bunk, it’s changed my morning routine in ways I never thought possible.

L-Theanine is an amino acid found in green tea — you know, that drink that somehow both stimulates and relaxes you. It’s been theorized to be great for anxiety (though that again is up for debate). I don’t want to get too heavily into the wild promises of any of this because I am not Alex Jones, but adding a little L-Theanine powder to my first coffee of the day has allowed me a second, and even third cup when I want. Whereas I’d usually crash around 2 p.m., I instead just… keep going. It’s neither a miracle drug nor anything close to that, but it sure helps you feel more like a normal person if you overdo it on the java.

There are all kinds of theanine products on the market. It comes in tablets and pills, but powder is the easiest to procure and consume. If you’re skeptical, this small $10 pack of pure L-Theanine powder is a great place to start and will last you longer than you think. If it’s not your thing, no harm done. If it blows you’re freakin’ mind, welcome to the club.