Taste Tutor -
Top Facts - Taste and flavour
There are in fact only five different tastes; salt, sour, sweet, bitter and umami (savoury).
Flavour is actually 70-95% smell (to test this, hold your nose and eat or drink!).
After eating artichokes, water tastes sweet. Artichokes have the effect of enhancing sweet taste by suppression of sour and bitter taste receptors.
Sweet and sour flavour is an interesting but delicious combination. Sour warns us of acid and off-food whereas sweet is pleasant and informs us of a food high in carbohydrates. Put the two together and the brain is receiving conflicting information. But, this adds interest and complexity as we learn to ignore the warning of sour taste.
Bitter warns us of poisons (most poisons are bitter) and children don’t like bitter foods or drinks. This bitter sensitivity lessens with age and, as adults, we can overcome the warning signal and develop a liking for bitter foods and drinks like coffee, olives and beer.
Pepper and chilli activate sensory nerve endings on the tongue – especially those nerves sensing temperature, as well as activating taste nerves.
We have around 7000 taste receptors (4600 on the tongue and another 2500 on the roof of the mouth and the soft tissue of the throat).
25% of the population are ‘supertasters’ (more women than men) and have enhanced bitter sensitivity. This may explain why some kids can’t stand green vegetables.