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T for Taste

Published on 16 March 17

Taste, as it is commonly defined and understood, is one of our five senses. Its experience is as immediate as sight, sound, smell or touch.

It is through taste that we perceive the ’taste of’ things, which, in turn, gives rise to pleasant or unpleasant sensations. These sensations determine whether we ’like’ or ’dislike’ a food or beverage.

 

When we eat a meal or drink a cup of coffee, for example, its chemical components are released. Some of them travel to the nose, and are picked up by our olfactory system, while others are dissolved by saliva, and interact with the taste buds on our tongues. The former determine the scent of food, while the latter, its flavour, which is the object of our sense of taste.

 

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Since the early 20th century, it has been accepted that flavours are organised around five major categories: salty, sweet, bitter, sour, and umami (often translated from the Japanese as ’savoury’, with its flavour being determined largely by the presence of glutamate).

 

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