Sweet, Salty, Sour, Bitter, Umami, and ?

Why does taste matter?

Essentially, the chemical experience of taste is made up of a small number of discrete sensations on the the tongue which are critical in letting us know whether we are eating something good for us (nutritious) or bad for us (poisonous). As tastebuds respond to the chemicals in food, we either feel pleasure, revulsion, or some combination of the two, and this lets us know whether we ought to continue consuming.

And then there were five

As far as most of us were concerned for the greater part of our lives, there were 4 basic tastes: sweet, salty, sour and bitter.  In recent years, umami (savory) was added to this lexicon. Though the term, describing foods with rich, meaty & brothy  qualities, was first coined in 1903, it took until 2002, when a taste receptor in human taste buds was discovered, for umami to make it as an official member of the basic tastes club.  This definitely caused a stir among foodies and academics, but now, over a decade later, this new taste has been embraced.


So what is the new buzz we are hearing about another, wait, several other potential new tastes? Isn’t 5 enough? Apparently not, as there are now, somewhere between 10 and 20 new tastes attempting to work their way into this once-exclusive group. Since molecular biologists started figuring out which tastes have dedicated receptor cells, the taste field has has opened wide. As a result of all this research, new proposed tastes have been getting lots of attention, these include: soapiness, electric, alkaline, hydroxide, and metallic. Of the potential new tastes being proposed, the taste that seems to have the most momentum behind it is fattiness.


All very interesting. We’ll just be hanging out here, making great chips, dips, and salsa and waiting to see if the basic tastes we know and love expand. Either way, we’ll do what we do,  because good is good, even if it gets a new name.