Science Discovers a New Taste, But Flavor is Still Mostly Aroma


Science has long believed that people are able to discern only five flavors — bitter, salty, sour, sweet, and umami. The rest of what you perceive as flavor is really aroma. That’s why we believe so passionately in aroma training.

That has changed with the announcement that scientists have discovered a sixth distinct flavor element. According to an article in the journal Chemical Senses, tests of how sweetness is perceived have uncovered a set of taste buds sensitive to chemicals common to starchy foods. We’ll let CNN translate the highly technical language of the study into something understandable.

The study involved five separate experiments and about 100 adult participants. The participants were asked to taste different liquid solutions of simple and more complex carbohydrates under normal conditions and then while the sweet receptors on their tongues were blocked. The researchers discovered that even when the sweet taste receptors were blocked, the study participants could still detect a starchy taste.

It was previously assumed that starch was tasteless.

The addition of an entirely new flavor to our sense of taste changes the balance between taste and smell. Instead of being able to discern 200 million aromas for every taste, the ratio will be 166 million to one.

For now, we’re still sticking with aroma as the most important part of “tasting”.