August 03, 2015

How Many Basic Tastes Do We Have? Four? Five? Six? More?

As children, we all learn that there are 4 basic tastes: salty, sweet, sour, and bitter. Umami (savory) was discovered in 1909, but recognized more generally since the 1980s.

But there have been a number of other additional basic tastes also proposed that many may not have heard of:

Should one include taste senses due to the somatosensory system, one can potentially include these basic tastes:

  • Pungency, spiciness, hotness
  • Coolness
  • Numbness
  • Astringency
  • Temperature

However, "officially," only 5 basic tastes are currently recognized: salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and umami. With time, others may become "officially" recognized, but be aware that these additional taste senses do exist.

Did you also know that the tongue taste map is a lie? Read more here.

Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids.

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