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Are nootropic drinks a brain-enhancing elixir?

We investigate whether these on-trend drinks can really improve your brain function. 

several bottles and cans of nootropic drinks on a grey background
Last updated: 10 August 2022


Checked for accuracy by our qualified fact-checkers and verifiers. Find out more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

Need to know

  • Nootropics are a classification of supplements or drugs that claim to improve brain function and give you a cognitive boost
  • Not all the drinks we tested contain caffeine, but those that do have considerable amounts
  • There's some promising research behind some of the ingredients in these drinks, but there's still more information needed for many of them

Nootropic drinks are a niche new addition to the beverage market that claim to improve your memory, focus and motivation. 

Nexba, a popular kombucha brand, has jumped on the bandwagon with its own nootropic drinks range, while supermodel Bella Hadid has spruiked her own nootropic-style drink called Kin Spritz to tens of millions of Instagram followers.

But are these brain-boosting beverages all they're cracked up to be? 

We take a look at the ingredients of nootropics drinks and their associated claims, a panel of CHOICE volunteers rate seven drinks on taste, and two staff members drink one brand across a couple of days to see if they notice any cognitive or mood difference.

CHOICE tester in a lab coat

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CHOICE verdict

If you're looking to completely overhaul your life, nootropic drinks won't be a quick fix. 

It seems as though this is another body-hacking concept that's a shortcut to implementing actual lifestyle habits, such as eating a healthy and varied diet, drinking enough water, getting enough sleep and doing plenty of exercise. These habits have overwhelmingly strong evidence to support healthy cognitive function and mental health.

But if you're already living a healthy lifestyle and want a buzzy alternative to your usual afternoon tea or coffee, you may or may not get a small cognitive boost from Arepa, Shine+, Nexba and Kanguru nootropic drinks. If you end up trying any of them, let us know what you think.

What do nootropic drinks claim to do?

Let's take a look at some of the active ingredients commonly found in nootropic drinks, what their claimed health benefits are, and whether there's enough scientific proof to support these claims.


Claim: Improves memory and learning.

Evidence: May help with memory and learning. May help reduce stress and anxiety. More studies are needed.

Nootropic drinks with this ingredient: Savvy Brain Boost.

Berry Anthocyanins (a class of flavonoids)

Claim: Improves memory, attention and cognitive performance.

Evidence: An increase in memory in older people has been observed in small trials. May increase cognitive performance attention in children. More research is needed.

Nootropic drinks with this ingredient: Arepa Performance Nootropic Brain Drink, The Juice Lab Wellness Calm, Mojo Superbooch Calm-omile.


Claim: Calming.

Evidence: More research is needed for a calming effect. May be useful in the short term to assist with anxiety.

Nootropic drinks with this ingredient: The Juice Lab Wellness Calm, Mojo Superbooch Calm-omile.


Claim: Improves cognitive performance.

Evidence: May improve speed of response and recognition when also supplemented with vitamin C. More studies are needed.

Nootropic drinks with this ingredient: Arepa Performance Nootropic Brain DrinkNo Ugly Skin Collagen + Enzogenol Wellness Tonic.

Ginkgo biloba

Claim: Improves memory.

Evidence: May help with cognitive function. Increases in memory observed in a small trial of healthy adults. More studies are needed.

Nootropic drinks with this ingredient: Nexba Focus, Nexba Gut, Nexba Glow, Shine+ Better Energy.


Claim: Improves cognitive function, learning and memory.

Evidence: No statistically significant differences in cognitive function and memory observed in studies. May help reduce anxiety and stress symptoms. More research is needed.

Nootropic drinks with this ingredient: Kanguru Energy Blend.


Claim: Improves cognitive function.

Evidence: May offer short-term additional stimulant effect when combined with caffeine, but more studies are needed.

Nootropic drinks with this ingredient: Kanguru Energy Blend, Kanguru Wellness Blend.


Claim: Calming; improves focus.

Evidence: May increase focus when taken with caffeine. May help anxious people focus better. May help with relaxation. More research is needed.

Nootropic drinks with this ingredient: Arepa Performance Nootropic Brain Drink, Shine+ Better Energy, Kanguru Energy Blend, Savvy Brain Boost.


Claim: Improves memory and focus.

Evidence: Some research done on rats and mice shows improvements in stress, memory and learning. More evidence is needed.

Nootropic drinks with this ingredient: Kanguru Energy Blend.

Nootropic drinks taste test (best to worst)

Can of Juice Lab Calm

The Juice Lab Wellness Calm.

1. The Juice Lab Wellness Calm

  • Flavour: Sparkling blueberry with hemp and chamomile
  • CHOICE Score: 74%
  • Price: $3.00 for 250mL
  • Health Star Rating: 3
  • Country of origin statement: Packed in Australia from 30% Australian ingredients. 
  • What staff said: "A nice balance of appearance, flavour, mouthfeel and aftertaste. I would drink more of this one. It didn't have the 'energy drink' taste."
Bottle of Arepa

Arepa Performance Nootropic Brain Drink.

2. Arepa Performance Nootropic Brain Drink

  • Flavour: Blackcurrant
  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 57%
  • Price: $6.99 for 250mL
  • Health Star Rating: 4
  • Country of origin statement: Made in New Zealand.
  • What staff said: "It tastes like kombucha, just a little off but not as disgusting as the other ones. Interesting fruity flavour, sweet but not too sweet."
Can of Shine

Shine+ Better Energy.

3. Shine+ Better Energy Nootropic Drink

  • Flavour: Blueberry lemonade 
  • CHOICE Score: 51%
  • Price: $2.50 for 250mL ($9.95 pack of 4)
  • Health Star Rating: 2.5
  • Country of origin statement: Made in Australia from at least 93% Australian ingredients.
  • What staff said: "Nice smell, but too sweet and felt a bit thick. Despite the radioactive yellow colour, it had a delightful 'spritz' feel".
Bottle of No Ugly

No Ugly Skin Collagen + Enzogenol Wellness Tonic.

4. No Ugly Skin Collagen + Enzogenol Wellness Tonic 

  • Flavour: Pineapple 
  • CHOICE Score: 49%
  • Price: $4.99 for 250mL
  • Health Star Rating: 2
  • Country of origin statement: Made in New Zealand.
  • What staff said: "It had a mild, natural flavour and colour, and no nasty aftertaste. It wasn't a full-strength pineapple taste, which was disappointing."
Bottle of Nexba Focus

Nexba Focus.

5. Nexba Focus Sparkling Nootropic

  • Flavour: Passionfruit
  • CHOICE Score: 46%
  • Price: $4.40 for 330mL
  • Health Star Rating: 3.5
  • Country of origin statement: Made in Australia from at least 95% Australian ingredients.
  • What staff said: "It didn't leave a bad aftertaste, the smell was OK and it looked and tasted like some sort of juice. Taste was fresh and lightly sweet."
Can of Kanguru

Kanguru Energy Blend.

6. Kanguru Energy Blend 

  • Flavour: Mixed berry and pomegranate
  • CHOICE Score: 45%
  • Price: $3.00 for 300mL
  • Health Star Rating: 3
  • Country of origin statement: Developed and packed in Australia using ingredients from multiple countries.
  • What staff said: "It had a bittersweet taste which I liked, and not much of a chemical aftertaste, but it was quite strong. I probably wouldn't be able to drink a whole bottle."
Bottle of Mojo Calm

Mojo Superbooch Calm-omile.

7. Mojo Superbooch Calm-omile

  • Flavour: Blueberry, lavender and chamomile
  • CHOICE Score: 42%
  • Price: $3.50 for 450mL
  • Health Star Rating: 2.5
  • Country of origin statement: Made in Australia from at least 93% Australian ingredients.
  • What staff said: "Not too sweet, more like a kombucha, no awful aftertaste, no artificial sweetener taste. Slight vinegar smells and flavour, which I don't mind at all. But it wasn't enough to make me like this one."

Two-day trial: Arepa Performance Nootropic Brain Drink

We were curious about whether nootropic drinks actually do what they claim to do, so we gave two willing staff the Arepa Performance Nootropic Brain Drink to trial for two days to see whether they thought it improved their mental clarity, motivation and focus. 

They each drank one 300mL bottle of Arepa at any time during the day and took an online survey immediately before drinking and 20–30 minutes after drinking the whole bottle. The survey reported on their subjective feelings of tiredness, motivation, happiness, focus and relaxation.

We chose the Arepa nootropic drink because it has the highest amount of L-theanine of the products we tasted, and the marketing for this product looks very convincing with claims that it was developed by neuroscientists. It's also readily available in Coles and has a subscription service.

Arepa's website claims this drink can:

  • promote mental clarity and calm
  • improve focus under mental fatigue
  • support normal neurological function. 

Here's what our staff thought about it

After drinking Arepa Performance Nootropic Brain Drink, both people said they felt less tired, more motivated, and had a clearer mind. 

"I really didn't notice a big difference, although I found I felt tired later on in the day and fairly relaxed," reported one CHOICE staffer.

The other staff member also reported a lower mood after consuming the drink on both days.

Both triallists thought the flavour was OK, and neither disliked the drink overall.

"I quite like the Arepa drink, but it tastes pretty strong – a little bit goes a long way. For this test, I drank each bottle fairly quickly, over a few minutes or so, but it would probably be nicer in two or three servings across the day, maybe diluted a little, or with meals. It also [temporarily] stained my teeth and tongue!"

"The flavour isn't too bad after a few sips and isn't too sweet, and there's no aftertaste of sweeteners."

How much do nootropic drinks cost?

Nootropic drinks range in price from $2.50–6.99 per can or bottle, which works out to between 78 cents and $2.33 per 100mL. The serving sizes we saw ranged from 250–500mL, and they're packaged in cans and glass bottles which means most can be recycled or returned for a 10c refund (in participating states).

Are nootropic drinks high in caffeine? 

Many nootropic drinks do contain caffeine, which is a common ingredient in energy drinks as well as other ingredients that claim to give you a boost, such as guarana and B vitamins. But others such as Mojo's Calm-omile and The Juice Lab's Wellness Calm are designed to have more of a calming effect rather than a stimulating one.

The legal caffeine limit, set by Australian food standards, for a standard 250mL energy drink in Australia is 80mg – about the same as an average cup of instant coffee. The recommended daily limit of caffeine for the general adult population is about 400mg.

Too much caffeine can cause headaches, increase anxiety, make you restless and impair your sleep. 

We compared the caffeine content of nootropic drinks to a cup of coffee and a can of V Energy. 

Caffeine content comparison

  • V Energy: 78mg per 250mL.
  • V Energy Sugarfree Blue: 155mg per 500mL.
  • Caffeine-containing nootropic drink (small): 80mg per 250mL.
  • Caffeine-containing nootropic drink (large): 160mg per 500mL.
  • Instant coffee: 80–120mg per cup/serve.

The nootropic serving sizes we saw ranged from 250mL to around 500mL and they're all intended to be drunk in one sitting. Caffeine content varies a lot between products: a 500mL can of Shine+ Charged, for example, provides 160mg of caffeine, while other brands contain none.  

Of the drinks we tasted, Kanguru Energy Blend has the highest amount of caffeine at 96mg per serve (300mL can), which is roughly 1/4 of your caffeine limit for the day. Shine+ Better Energy has 80mg per 250mL serve, while the other five drinks have no added caffeine.

What about coffee and tea, aren't they nootropic drinks?

Technically, yes! They're easy to drink, taste great and are easily accessible for most people. Caffeine, found in coffee and tea, is classified as a nootropic because it provides mental stimulation. Tea also contains L-theanine in amounts ranging from 5.1–6.5mg per gram or 10.2–13g per serve (1 tea bag = 2g).

Are nootropic drinks healthy?

Sugar content

Only two of the drinks we tasted, Nexba and Mojo, were sugar-free, while three contained less than 4g (1 teaspoon) of sugar per 100mL. The Juice Lab's Wellness Calm had the highest amount of sugar at 5.5g per 100mL followed by Arepa with 4.9g per 100mL. 

Just one 300mL bottle of Arepa Performance Nootropic Brain Drink provides nearly 30% of an adult's maximum daily sugar intake (12 teaspoons). However, both Arepa and The Juice Lab drinks contain large amounts of fruit juice, which was the contributing factor to their higher sugar content.

Health Star Rating

The Health Star Rating (HSR) was not listed on any of the nootropic drinks we looked at, so we calculated it based on the nutritional information on the product labels. The calculated HSR for each of these drinks ranked from 2–4 stars, with Arepa scoring 4 health stars and No Ugly Skin having the lowest rating of 2.

Can you drink too much?

Like with any other caffeinated beverage, those who are caffeine sensitive, pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid or limit these drinks. Other ingredients may also be unsuitable if you're pregnant or breastfeeding, may interact with some medications, and may have recommended daily intake limits.

While the Arepa drink doesn't contain caffeine, the website still states to cap your intake at no more than four drinks per day. It's always a good idea to adhere to the limits stated on the label.

What time of day is best to drink these drinks?

As many nootropic drinks contain caffeine and/or other additives designed to cause mental stimulation, it's best to avoid drinking them six hours before bedtime (depending on the person). On the other hand, others contain additives designed to calm you down such as chamomile, so you might not want to drink these when you need to be most awake and focused.

How we tested nootropic drinks


CHOICE staff ventured into the supermarket and bought any ready-to-drink packaged drink that was marketed as a nootropic or claimed to provide cognitive benefits. We chose seven different products available from national supermarkets Woolworths, Coles, IGA and online. Price is as purchased in stores and online in May 2022.


All up 26 willing CHOICE staffers tasted the seven different nootropic drinks. Drink samples were put into coded containers immediately before the test, and our staff tasted the drink samples 'blind' (without knowing the brands) before rating them. 


The CHOICE Score is made up of 90% taste (flavour – 50% , aftertaste – 30%, appearance – 10%, mouthfeel – 10%, and smell – 10%) as well as 10% nutrition (based on the product's Health Star Rating, calculated from the details in the nutrition information panel and converted to a percentage).

Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.