Are You a Supertaster?


No, a supertaster is not someone who runs around in a cape with supersonic taste buds, but it is someone with a heightened sense of taste. Dr. Beverly Tepper, the director of the Sensory Evaluation Lab at Rutgers University, joined us to fill us in on this interesting topic. She let us know that the population is broken into three different, genetically determined categories: Supertasters, Normal Tasters, and Non-Tasters.

Supertasters

Supertasters make up 25% of the population and it is more common for women to be supertasters. They have twice as many taste buds than the average person and therefore taste things more intensely. Because their sense of taste is heightened, they are also much more sensitive to the taste of many bitter foods such as broccoli, kale, and coffee, as well as sweet and fatty foods. Due to their sensitivity to fatty foods, supertasters tend to weigh less than Normal and Non-Tasters. Supertasters are broken into two categories: picky eaters and adventurous eaters. Although by nature they are programmed to prefer less flavorful dishes, their surroundings and personal experiences can alter their taste preference, allowing them to train themselves to enjoy bitter, sweet, and fatty foods, and therefore inspire them to try a lot of new things. Supertasters have a very strong reaction to the compound PROP (a bitter tasting chemical used to test whether or not someone is a supertaster).

Normal Tasters

50% of the population are normal tasters. This group has an average amount of taste buds and tends to like a wide variety of foods. Although normal tasters may have some sensitivity to bitter foods, especially when young, they will not have as strong of a reaction to PROP as a supertaster would.

Non-Tasters

Non-tasters make up 25% of the population. These people have less taste buds than the average person and therefore do not taste things as strongly as a normal or super taster. Non-tasters tend to prefer foods with a lot of seasonings and can handle very spicy foods better than normal and super tasters.

How to Find Out

There are two ways to find out if you are a supertaster. The quickest and easiest way is to purchase a Supertaster Test, which is a piece of paper impregnated with the compound PROP. If you taste nothing, you are a non-taster. Normal tasters will detect a gross, bitter flavor, but it won't be unbearable. Supertasters will have a very strong reaction to the bitterness of the test and will not be able to keep it in their mouth for a long period of time.

The other way to determine if you are a supertaster is to place one drop of blue food dye on your tongue. Then take a hole punch and punch a hole out of a small piece of paper and place it on the tip of your tongue. Using a magnifying glass, count the number of papillae (larger, round taste buds) inside the cut out hole. The papillae should still be pink, surrounded by smaller blue taste buds. If you have more than 30 papillae inside the cut out area, you are a Supertaster!

Which of these do you think best describes your taste preferences? Let us know! For more adventures with Blue Ribbon Hunter check out our video page or follow us on Facebook!