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How to Tell if You are a Supertaster

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What’s a supertaster you ask?  More or less, it’s just someone with a heck of a lot more taste-buds than the average person.  Specifically, someone with more than about 35 papillae per 7mm diameter circle on their tongue.  Papillae are tiny structures on your tongue that contain your taste-buds.  It turns out, about 25% of people are supertasters; 25% are non-tasters; and the other 50% are somewhere in the middle.

All these extra taste-buds tend to make supertasters hyper sensitive to tastes, due to the increased intensity of any given taste they are detecting.  Researchers estimate the supertasters experience flavors about three times stronger than the average taster.


Padma Lakshmi is a supertaster

padma lakshmi hot smile tight dress imgur tumblr

If she's super sensitive to taste does that make her a better chef?

I don't know, but she is able to articulate what she is tasting really well. Being a supertaster might make Padma more appreciative of a good dish more than an average taster.

And then I found this: 

"Supertasters in general get everything more intense," says Linda Bartoshuk, a professor with the University of Florida Center for Smell and Taste and a pioneer in the study of supertasting. "When you put it all together we say that supertasters live in a neon food world compared to the pastel food world" everyone else lives in, she says.

A relatively high proportion of professional chefs are supertasters, Dr. Bartoshuk says.

"People Who Taste Too Much"

Did they just use colors (neon and pastel) to describe tastes??

It does sound like that. I'd forgotten about synesthesia!

Taste the rainbow...

taste like colors gif

taste like colors gif

If Asian women are the most likely to be supertasters, and Caucasian men are the least likely... then yeah, those picky eaters really are just picky eaters. Believe me, 35+% of Asian women are not sitting around refusing to eat green vegetables and green tea and soy because "they can't help it"!!! In fact Asian cultures probably valorize bitter foods more than any other.

If you watch old Iron Chef episodes, you might remember Battle Bell Pepper -- in which all the participants found bell peppers to be a horribly bitter and unpleasant novelty item -- which interested me because I think most Americans would say they are sweet and innocuous. I have rarely met an American, no matter how picky, who refused to eat a bell pepper. On the other hand, the #1 food that I have seen Asian ladies refuse is dry wine -- they always prefer something off-dry if given a chance. Maybe they are supertasters! Or maybe they just have expectations of what drinks will be that are not met by a lot of dry wines.

I can believe that supertasters don't like dry wine.

And I for one find bell peppers sweet and innocuous. So no supertasting for me.

Good point.  

I am socialized to eat some things I don't find particularly tasty, like green bell peppers. I think they are vile.  Red, yellow and orange bell peppers are fine, because the sugars are developed.

Anyway, I liked this bullet:  

  • In The Simpsons episode “Father Knows Worst”, Homer eats a stick of burning coals and becomes a supertaster.

I never noticed that green bell peppers taste differently than other colored bell peppers.

They pretty much taste the same to me.

Green bell peppers are harvested before they are fully ripe, one reason they are less expensive than other varieties. Green bell peppers will continue to first turn yellow and then red if they are left on the plant to mature. They have a slightly bitter flavor and will never have the sweet taste of their red, yellow and orange counterparts.

Whoa, I never realized this. Thank you for sharing!

I will pay more attention to their flavor the next time I eat one. 

Awesome - thank you!

I wonder if supertasters have a tendency to like sweet mixed with savory ....

Bingo! yes I never buy green peppers, the rest are fine but I just don't like green peppers and the stores try to shove them down our throats in the US.  I do, however, like seeing a wider variety of mushrooms that have been slowly gaining a foothold in California grocery isles

Nathaniel, stores really do push green peppers.

Geege, supertasters have intense taste of sweet... I'd guess not.

Let's ask Greg.  I think supertasters need a little sweet to counteract the bitter.

That NG article is great!

Definitely ask Greg when you talk to him next. I'm curious. 

The new thing nowadays is beer and chocolate tasting.  Think of beer as the sweet and malty and the chocolate bitter.  I love pure dark chocolate by itself, and most beers, but for some reason the two together don't really work for me!

Funny, I think of chocolate as sweet and beer as bitter.

You're right though: they don't seem to go together.

I've seen wine and chocolate pairings too.

yes yes yes.  it's horrible.  I do occasionally take a really really hoppy beer to clear the taste of a very sweet desert after a meal, but not with the meal.  Normally a single ipa is a total no-go for me. stone ruinition

Hefe is the way I always like to go: widmer hefe

  If I need (want) to drink more than a couple then i'll go with a blonde : blonde bock beer blonde bock beer

Thanks for sharing this, Nathaniel. Now I know to be more sensitive about hoppy beer with supertasters.

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