What is a super taster?


Kiddie songs by You Might be Giants aside, what is a super taster, and how does supertasterhood manifest itself. A friend tells me that an aversion to beer is a dead giveaway, and that one can stick reinforcement rings on one’s tongue and conduct spot sensitivity tests. And yes, I see the online references to such acts, but I trust you more than all these websites.

Let’s start with the Wikipedia page on it. Unfortunately, a lot of good info of the different types of supertasters has been edited out. So it seems there is only one type if that was all you had to go on.

The current version has a really weird line: “Subsequently, salt has been replaced with a non-oral auditory standard.” WTF?

I am a double supertaster. In addition to the usual hate for bitter things like broccoli and it’s kin, I am sensitive to alcohol and fats. So for me beer is doubly bad: bitter plus the alcohol. But other supertasters might have less an aversion or none at all to beer.

People have falsely accused me of being a picky eater. I routinely eat many foods that I don’t like much at all. But if something is really awful, forget it. And that “Well, you’ve never had X that was prepared right.” Uh, nope.

It’s like having regular color vision in a world dominated by people with red-green colorblind. If you’re sight/taste/hearing isn’t as good as someone else’s, that doesn’t mean there is something deficient with the other person.

OTOH, you have no idea how great chocolate tastes to me. It is amazing. (If the fat content isn’t too high.)

I once attended a lecture on taste. The instructor passed out little slips of paper — impregnated with a chemical I can’t remember the name of — and asked us all to put them on our tongues. Most people said the papers had no taste at all. About 10% (IIRC) said they were very sour. And two people said the taste made them nauseous.

To me it tasted sour, which meant I’m a supertaster. I like broccoli and beer, but I absolutely cannot handle coffee (except with LOTS of cream and sugar) or spiciness (in most places, mild chicken wings are too much for me).

The two people who found the chemical nauseating were superdupertasters (yes, I made that up myself), rather like ftg, I guess.

We did that in high school biology. Most of the class said the paper had no taste, but a few said it was very bitter. I was the only one who thought it tasted mildly sweet. No idea what that means.

The papers were coated in PTC. The taste test is often done in high school bio, because it’s a real world application of genetics - the ability to taste PTC depends on a dominant gene. It occurs naturally in broccoli, brussel sprouts, and other green vegetables, so if you have the gene, you can’t stand those foods. I could be wrong, but I always thought supertasting was a completely different thing - it depends on the concentration of taste buds on the surface of your tongue. The test I saw involved putting food coloring on your tongue and placing the hole of a hole-punched piece of paper over it; you count the bumps on your tongue within the hole, and the more you have, the better your taste.

Can you buy this paper?

I’ve wondered about this. I think for some people, its really hard to tell whether they really are a ‘supertaster’ or simply a picky eater.

I’ve also heard there was some correlation with Autism and/or food allergies?

I have it, and one of my sons has it, as well. And coincidentally, we’re the only two left-handers in the family.

I can’t eat bitter greens, nor can I drink hoppy beer like IPA. It’s taken 20 years to get my wife to stop serving me raggedy edged salad greens. I can handle something like broccoli, but asparagus is right on the edge and must be grilled. I don’t know if it is associated, but I also have a very acute sense of smell.

This sounds like me as well. I’ve always assumed (and been told) that I’m just picky. Perhaps I’m not.


I think I’m a semi super taster. I dislike coffee and beer, (yeah I’m a supertaster), but I like broccoli…if there’s one sprig of it in the entire dish. That’s enough bitter for me.

There are many different types of supertasters. The icky-broccoli type is just one. Having a lot of taste buds is another and presumably unrelated (this one is usually correlated with alcohol/fat tasting).

People’s tasting abilities lie on a bell curve-type thing. And there’s a lot of axes. The flavor umami wasn’t understood for a long time due to the wide variation people have in tasting it.

I don’t know about the Autism angle, but I think people confuse food allergies with supertasters with picky eaters.

  1. Picky eaters don’t eat certain foods because, well, they’re picky - it’s unfamiliar or unusual or some texture they don’t like but there’s no physiological reason for their pickiness.

  2. Supertasters pass on certain foods because some quality is overwhelming - due to genetics or whatever bitter tastes MUCH more bitter than to typical people, or sour is MUCH more sour, or hot peppers MUCH hotter. If the average person had the same overwhelming taste experience they probably wouldn’t like the food either.

  3. Allergic people avoid certain foods either because that food makes them horribly ill/prevents them from breathing, or they fear that it will. If every time you eat something you wind up vomiting or in the ER or intensive care odds are you’ll come to dislike/hate/avoid it like the plague, too.

Now, you certainly can have some overlap between these categories (a supertaster who is allergic to shellfish, for example), but they are different categories. Just because someone is a supertaster doesn’t mean they are allergic to any food, and they may be the opposite of a picky eater depending on their background and how much of a foodie they are.

My brother and I had the same confused reaction to the newsmedia’s go-to for supertasters: “If you are a supertaster, you won’t like broccoli because it will taste bitter to you.”

See, we both agree that broccoli tastes bitter, but we also both like it. In fact, we agree that the bitter is why we like it. It’s like the Sour Patch Kids of the vegetable world.

Is supertasting at all related to nutrisweet? I’m told that 85% of the population thinks aspartame tastes just like sugar, and it still amazes me that the diet softdrink industry would have so universally embraced an ingredient that 15% of the population (including me) thinks tastes awful.
I mean, saccharine was bad (I mean tastes bad, although it is also a carcinogen), but aspartame is just intolerable.

I don’t think there’s a definitive test for “supertaster”, and it may be that there are different varieties of supertaster depending on what their genetics allow them to taste.

And here i am, after all these years of thinking my aversion “spicy” foods was because I was raised on cheap beef and potatoes, with the occasional sweet for dessert.

Beer and broccoli are fine, but “hot” sauces, as found in many Mexican and Asian foods are intolerable.
I almost always ate lunch at my desk. On one site, there was a tiny deli a half block away which had take-out subs which were quite tasty. Except for the jalapenos - even after picking them off, the spots where they had been were exceeding nasty.

I’m with you, and I’m pretty sure I’m not a “supertaster” – there are very few foods I really dislike, and it’s always for some reason other than taste, generally texture or yuckiness due to some other factor. And I’m fine with broccoli and asparagus and really quite like brussel sprouts. But diet soft drinks, whether sweetened with saccharine or aspertame, always taste to me like they’ve been contaminated with some horrible chemical. They are mouth-puckeringly bitter, the way one imagines they might taste if someone had poured bleach into them. Cannot drink the stuff at all.

I once participated in an experiment with this and the people who had more bumps tended to preferred foods with strong tastes (according to a survey they did before the examination).

So I don’t think being a “supertaster” means you necessarily can’t stand to eat certain flavors, the way everyone is assuming in this thread. People who prefer foods with more flavors have to have the taste buds to perceive them. I think that many people who prefer less flavorful food do so because their tongue can perceive only certain more basic and less appealing aspects of various foods–and so they end up choosing food more by texture and aroma.

The amusing thing about this forum thread is I don’t feel the slightest bit of envy that I’m not a supertaster.

Sure, I don’t get to enjoy the sublime flavors of high grade liquor, nor can I tell the difference between scharfenberger and regular hershey’s dark chocolate.

But on the other hand, I can tolerate regular beer and I don’t mind eating previous frozen food. Saves me a ton of money, and it means I can tolerate food and drink that isn’t perfect.