What's the science behind 'super taster' taste buds?
April 14, 2019 8:50 AM   Subscribe

A friend jokes that I'll eat anything, and I joke that he's way too picky. Last year we did a test for super- / non-taster taste buds, and he hit super taster while I hit non-taster. I'm sort of suspicious of this for the pop-biology sheen, but have recently been wondering if a lot of personal tastes might come down to not being overwhelmed by certain notes in a food (e.g. bitterness in coffee, which I love and he hates) that might come with having more sensitive taste buds. Has this been studied in depth beyond some sort of at-home test they sell on the Internet?
posted by codacorolla to Science & Nature (3 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
Here's a brief scholarly overview of some of the science of tasting and supertasters over the past 60 years or so.

Of note:
Although there are tests developed to assess human hearing, vision, and smell, there is no brief but comprehensive test for tasting ability.
posted by SaltySalticid at 8:55 AM on April 14 [2 favorites]


There’s a lot of science on this. I suspect I’m a super taster, as I hate all the foods supertasters hate (coffee, alcohol, bitter vegetables). I read a book that discussed it a long time ago, and a scientist studying this said counting taste buds is more accurate than the PROP test, which is what I’m guessing you did. Here’s a Scientific American article on how to do it. This test, by the way, strongly puts me in the supertaster category.
posted by FencingGal at 9:34 AM on April 14 [3 favorites]


There’s so much cool science on this and it gets pretty dense pretty fast. You might want to poke around on the highly reputable Monell Chemical Senses Center.

https://www.monell.org
posted by forkisbetter at 10:45 AM on April 14 [3 favorites]


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