What is the difference between theine and caffeine?

Theine IS caffeine, 1,3,7-trimethyl xanthine. When tea came to Britain, coffee houses had an unsavory reputation. It was known that both coffee and tea contained a stimulant of some form, but modern chemical methods would not be discovered for hundreds of years. Since tea was considered suitable for consumption by women and decent people (and women were not yet people), the stimulatory substance in tea was widely accepted culturally as different than that of coffee.

Fast forward a couple hundred years, and the means to determine chemical structure get their infancy in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Still not as capable as modern methods, the chemical identity seems similar, but because the expectation was that there must be some difference, it is given its own name on the assumption that once discovered, it will make the difference “make sense”

We have had the advantage of modern methods, but there is still this large body of copyright-free, older primary and secondary sources asserting and “proving” they are different. From a Wikipedia editor type point of view, there's enough secondary material easily sourced from seemingly reputable sources stating that there is a difference. I've seen researchers publish that the difference isn't chemical, per se, but due to theanine or tea catechins or some other factor that is different in tea a priori, but coincidence is not proof. So the theine shibboleth continues to propagate in primary and secondary literature, and is unextinguishable in Wikipedia like governance.

So again and again, these kinds of questions get asked. But don’t just take my word for it, because that too is a fallacious argument, argument by authority. This kind of problem is almost inevitable in modernity, where nothing is ever forgotten and long chains of evidence are costly to replicate. This sort of problem needs a different critical mode, in which we consider the historical chain of evidence as antithetical to gathering truth, even while closely examining it.

And, there's a limit on science, often referred to as scientism, where evidence presented in the form of scientific research (notably, when it is a ruse, like Nazi science, or less clearly a ruse, as the difference between theine and caffeine, and dozens of other examples I can name off the top of my head) is given higher standing and respect than other modes of thought. That is not to say there is a better way to do what science attempts to do (determine cause), but that in doing so we run the risk of creating or propagating error indefinitely due to false certainty. Because as we commit opinions to paper, it makes them indelible upon society.

Computerization and the redundancies of the Internet are making this worse. Detecting plagiarism, for example, is less a problem of comparison as it is a “p not np” type problem where comparison grows combinatorially, n!, even as infotech grows exponentially. Translation makes this worse: if a cultural word like theine or caffeine were explained to a space alien, the translator has an opportunity to side in that debate.

The difference between theine and caffeine, to the casual reader, seems petty and insignificant. But, it is a simple introduction to the problematic legacy of the twentieth century, and pervasive within that legacy, and potentially suicidal for “immortal” technology. Like racial epithets, we don't need them to communicate effectively, and what we need is a sort of memento mori, so that when future generations ask, we can cite these dead terms on proper grounds for dismissal.

Like this: the-ine: archaic, see caffeine.

What are the good and bad health effects of coffee?

I'll comment on coffee and the heart.

I've written about this in detail in the following link Benefits of Coffee : Getting To The Heart Of The Matter.

The following facts are worth highlighting. Coffee is often associated with the development of high blood pressure however studies have shown that in those that regularly drink coffee there is no association with high blood pressure, even in those drinking up to 6 cups a day. Several studies have found an association between coffee drinking and decreased incidence of diabetes. Moderate coffee consumption may be associated with a small decrease in the risk of stroke, although the studies examining that are by no means definitive. Well designed studies have demonstrated that coffee consumption is not associated with the development of arrhythmias. Several studies demonstrate a link between moderate coffee consumption and decreased risk of coronary heart disease. Well designed studies that followed participants for at least several years and recorded coffee habits demonstrate that regular coffee consumption was associated with a lower risk of developing heart disease, and a lower risk of dying from heart disease.

No study is perfect, and results of studies should always be interpreted with a degree of caution, but reassuringly, numerous well-designed studies have shown that coffee confers no significant risk of heart disease, and that in fact it may even be protective. Most of these studies looked at coffee drunk in moderation (2-4 cups) and it would appear reasonable to recommend moderate coffee consumption as part of a healthy lifestyle.

Other than caffeine, what psychoactive compounds exist in coffee and tea?

Theanine and to lesser amounts theobromine (the same psychoactive that's in chocolate) and theophylline.

Theobromine and theophylline both are methylated xanthines and are structurally very similar to caffeine (methyl groups are just positioned differently), sharing the same mild stimulating effect.

Theanine reduces stress and improves mood and cognition, but is not related to the aforementioned.

Side note: Caffeine is metabolized by the liver into paraxanthine, theobromine and theophylline

What are some good ways to stay awake without tea or coffee?

A cup of tea (white, green, oolong, black, pu-erh) is a good source of sustained energy. I find the caffeine is less spikey/jittery than coffee and longer lasting.

Also, experiment w/Yerba Mate.

What is the most effective way to get rid of caffeine withdrawal symptoms?

Caffeine is the most effective way to get rid of the withdrawal symptoms, probably not the answer you were hoping for and I know it is a bit obvious but the fact is if you're going to go cold turkey from a physically addictive drug you will get withdrawal symptoms.

Since about the age of 9 I've suffered from headaches all the time. After the severe lack of interest from doctors I decided to see if any changes to my diet would make a difference and I eliminated any substances that might in any way trigger them for whatever reason.

Part of this elimination process was the 5-6 cans of diet coke and about 2-3 cups of coffee a day. It didn't occur to me that I was addicted to caffeine.

After a day of elimination I developed a very intense headache. I took ibuprofen and a medication called co-proxamol (prescribed by my doctor). This made absolutely no difference at all. After 3 days I couldn't take it any more and I had guessed the association between the headache and the caffeine withdrawal and I poured myself an egg cup amount of diet coke. Within half an hour the headache completely cleared up.

Over the years, I have slowly reduced the amount of caffeine I have and I believe that is the way you need to do it. Since I've reduced the amount, I can go days without coffee and without a headache. Obviously I wouldn't want to go days but I could if I wanted to, promise.

Additional reading:

How much caffeine is in a single and double ristretto?

Hi there, a single ristretto is a single shot of espresso ( but brewed with less water), and double's just two shots.

According to the Mayo clinic, 30ml of espresso has 47-75 mg of caffeine.


What's in the volume of a shot?

  • 10g of coffee produces about 18-30 ml of espresso (probably about 18-20ml if ristretto)
  • Hence I would say that a single ristretto shot (around 20ml) could estimably have around 33mg of caffeine, while a double shot (40ml) would have about 66mg.

Are there reasons why you shouldn't drink tea or coffee close to bedtime, aside from the fact that caffeine may keep you from falling asleep?

It’s a good question and prompted me to do some research.

The disruption of sleep patterns in general has an overall negative impact on one’s health. While caffeine can delay or disrupt falling into REM sleep, over a period of time it can also contribute to the more problematic malady of insomnia. Insomnia is broadly defined as a sleep disorder that is characterized by difficulty falling and/or staying asleep.

It’s important to remember that caffeine is a stimulant. Not only is it found in tea and coffee, but also colas and chocolate, and is another common cause of insomnia. Dr Paula Franklin, assistant medical director at BUPA, states:

“Insomnia is common in people whose daily intake exceeds 600mg of caffeine a day – and each tea or coffee contains 80-150mg.” 

Sleep experts suggest that you should stop drinking caffeinated beverages at least 8 hours before bed.

One also has to caution making too many broad claims about the effects caffeine on sleep. Body chemistry and individual metabolism dictates our level of sensitivity to caffeine. Caffeine sensitivity depends on your metabolism in relation to the combination of how much, and how often you consume coffee or tea. Being highly sensitive to caffeine may not only contribute to insomnia but also contribute to additional side effects. Adding increased nervousness and gastrointestinal upset to the list will also have a negative impact on enjoying a sound sleep.

Conventional wisdom also posits that caffeine has diuretic properties, which contributes to fluid loss. Having to urinate also disrupts your sleeping patterns. Again, consistently disrupted sleep patterns is unhealthy.
Regardless of when you choose to enjoy coffee or tea, there’s a bigger question to answer: what are caffeine’s effects both positive and negative in general? Maybe it’s really just best keeping moderation in mind.

Daily Mail “Ten reasons why you're not getting a good night's sleep”
WebMD: Sleep disorders
WebMD: Caffeine Myths and Facts

Per Wickstrom
Founder of Best Drug Rehabilitation
Best Drug Rehabilitation

If I'm trying to amp up with caffeine (e.g., coffee), is it good or bad to have other drinks (water, etc.) in between?

I'd say it would make no difference whatsoever, but I have no data to support that.

Theoretically, if you drink enough water, you might lower your blood concentration of caffeine, but realistically I doubt you'd be able to do that to the extent that there'd a measurable difference in stimulation, assuming functioning kidneys.

Edit:  Contrary to the other question answerers, caffeine is not actually a diuretic, especially not for regular caffeine drinkers.  It can be a bladder irritant, but not a diuretic (so you'll feel the urge to urinate more often, but urine volume is not actually increased).  Keith Adams posted a link to a good article summing it up at http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/0…

Is caffeine unhealthy or healthy?

Coffee is my favourite beverage after coconut water. I drink 2 to 4 small cups everyday. Coffee has become an integral part of my daily ritual.

Its close to impossible for me to start writing without sipping this awesome beverage.

I also sip some black coffee 10-15 minutes before my workout sessions as it helps in stimulating my nervous system. Drinking coffee increase adrenaline levels in my blood. This hormone as we all know is the “fight or flight” hormone and it prepares my body for an intense physical exertion.

Coffee also helps in signalling fat cells to release fatty acids in the blood which then can be used as fuel during my intense workouts.

Tip: Don’t waste your money in buying those chemical-laden pre-workout powders or drinks. Just sip this black beverage and you’ll be surprised by how much your physical performance can improve!

Here are some more benefits of coffee:

1) Coffee can lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes: This study in Science daily states that if a person drinks more than 4 cups of coffee everyday he/she can reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes by a whopping 50 percent!

2) Coffee can fight depression: According to this study, moderate caffeine intake (< 6 cups/day) has been associated with less depressive symptoms, fewer cognitive failures, and lower risk of suicide.

3) Coffee can lower the risk of certain cancers: This studyobserved a strong inverse association between coffee consumption and risk of lethal prostate cancer. In one of the studies of 489, 706 men and women published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, coffee consumption was inversely associated with colon cancer, particularly proximal tumours.

4) Coffee has massive amounts of antioxidants: Besides caffeine, coffee has other health promoting substances like chlorogenic acids, bioflavonoids, vitamins (B2, B5), and mineral (magnesium, potassium) etc.

Before you rush to the kitchen and make yourself a cuppa, know this:

We all respond differently to coffee. I know some people who can drink a large mug and sleep like a baby after that, on the other hand I know people who have trouble sleeping at night with just a sip of this beverage. My body handles coffee pretty well. But I make sure that I don’t drink after 4pm.

Caffeine warnings: Caffeine can interfere with your sleep if you drink it in the evening or near bed time. Also consuming caffeine when you are fatigued can worsen your mood. Excessive caffeine can cause irritability, stomach problems, anxiety and restlessness. And lastly, if you are pregnant, STAY AWAY from coffee at all cost.

I know my limit is 4, maximum 5 medium cups. I usually don’t go beyond this number and when I do for whatever reason I don’t feel that good.

Final Note

Quality matters. Organic coffee is better than otherwise. Black coffee is better than adding milk+sugar.

Check out my free course: Fitness for Beginners

Red Bull only has ~80mg of caffeine, yet most people will tell you it has a lot more, so how does it work? Black tea has about 100mg, a cup of coffee is 80-200mg, and Starbucks Chai Tea Latte has 100mg. What's the secret ingredient/interaction?

Expectation certainly plays a large role here. Most people drink Red Bull in the context of intentionally trying to get themselves pumped up and energized. Accordingly, they become more acutely aware of its stimulant effects and are more likely to observe or report them. Coffees and teas tend to be more frequently consumed in the context of habituated daily routine or socialization in relaxing environments (coffee shops, dinner parties, not extreme sports events or nightclubs).

These types of effects are indirectly related to marketing, in so much as marketing influences people's decisions about when to drink Red Bull and when to drink tea or coffee, but the role of expectation in perceived subjective experience is quite separate and has been scientifically studied. For instance, studies have shown that people given a "smart drink" before an examination do actually perform better, even when a control beverage with no special properties is substituted for the actual product.

An 8oz Red Bull also contains 27g of sugar. Depending upon what size and type of coffee or tea one orders, and how it is prepared, it may contain significantly more or less sugar than that.

Red Bull also contains a variety of other compounds, including taurine and B vitamins, which are generally present across "energy" product lines. I'm unsure to what degree their efficacy has been scientifically proven.

It's also worth considering what else is not in Red Bull that may be present in teas or coffees, potentially inhibiting their stimulant effects. Despite their caffeine content, many teas are noted to produce calming effects.