Taste researchers divide people into three groups:
- Non-tasters (around 25%)
- Medium tasters (around 50%)
- Supertasters (around 35% of women and 15% of men) (Wikipedia)
Testing for supertastersThese three groups are classified by their sensitivity to the bitter chemical 6-n-propylthiouracil (PROP). Non-tasters can't taste the bitterness all, medium tasters sense the bitterness but find it bearable, while supertasters find it revolting. Phenylthiocarbamide (PTC) was originally used for this test.
Children always seem to be able to taste PROP’s bitterness. This could be the reason why tastes for bitter foods such as coffee and dark chocolate are acquired with age. (BBC)
The term ‘supertaster’ was coined by Linda Bartoshuk in 1991, for people with acute PROP sensitivity. Supertasters are people with one or two dominant alleles for the gene TAS2R28. This results in a denser covering of fungiform papillae (one of the types of bumps on your tongue - see diagrams) and a therefore a higher number of taste receptors than non- and medium tasters (HowStuffWorks).
You can see if you're a supertaster with this experiment.
However, the supertaster gene can also affect people’s health negatively. Flavonoids, for example, taste unpleasantly bitter to supertasters, causing them to avoid certain fruit and vegetables. They often find common foods too strong, leading to extreme fussiness in some people.
If you do do the experiment, please let me know the results!
For a basic overview on taste, please see the previous post :)