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L-theanine, which is often just called “theanine,” is a water-soluble amino acid found in tea leaves, and sometimes mushrooms. When matcha first hit the mainstream market and made its way into coffee shops across the U.S., one of the benefits people talked about was that it contained L-theanine. L-theanine is a compound that gives you a feeling of “calm alertness,” and so it was considered a great alternative for anyone who gets the jitters from coffee.
L-theanine is an amino acid that the body does not naturally produce, and it’s not essential for human function. There may be some important reasons to ingest L-theanine, though: taking L-theanine could have a positive impact on the body and brain, particularly when it comes to lowering stress levels, getting enough sleep, and regulating emotions.
There’s some evidence that L-theanine may elevate levels of GABA, dopamine, and serotonin — all “feel good” neurotransmitters in the brain. Typically, increasing levels of these chemicals in the brain can help regulate mood, helping people feel calmer and sleep better.
It’s worth noting that while you can get L-theanine through tea, if you’re hoping to reap the benefits associated with L-theanine use, it’s probably best to do it via supplementation — the amount of L-theanine in tea is usually between 30 and 50 mg, as compared to the 50 to 200 mg found in supplements. It’s also worth noting that the theanine-to-caffeine ratio is about 1:3 in tea, vs 2:1 or more in supplements, so what L-theanine benefit you do get from tea may be ‘outweighed’ by the caffeine.
If you want to see real results with your L-theanine use, you’ll probably want to take 50 mg per day minimum, which is why getting a high dose of L-theanine by drinking tea can be tough. Whether or not you decide to increase that amount depends on the specific results you’re trying to achieve.
If you simply want to feel more relaxed, 50 mg is the amount that’s been shown to increase those alpha brain waves that are associated with a more relaxed state of mind. If you’re looking for the best L theanine for anxiety dosage, 200 mg twice a day is a safe bet. And if you want to sleep better, anywhere from 250 mg to 400 mg of L-theanine may help.