When I reached 18 years of age - the legal age for purchasing alcohol in Singapore - my friends suggested that we drink beer together at a (micro)brewery, Paulaner. I wasn't too interested initially because I never liked the bitter taste of beer but my friends said that the beer there is sweet. I was curious to taste "sweet" beer so I went with them. They ordered a few different types of beer and we tasted them. When we got to the "sweet" beer, I commented that it was bitter but everyone insisted it was sweet.

Most vegetables taste bitter to me. Some taste especially bitter, e.g. cabbage and I can't tolerate the taste of bitter gourd or grapefruit and even orange juice tastes bitter to me. Once I requested for my mother to cook the less bitter vegetables instead but she gave me a confused look and said, "What are you talking about? Vegetables are not bitter." Occasionally when I eat with friends, I ask them whether they find the vegetables that we're having bitter. Most of them would say No while a few would think really hard and then reply Maybe, as if they're just trying hard not to make me feel silly.

Only recently did I find out what my real problem is: I'm a supertaster. As the name suggests, a supertaster is a person who is more sensitive to taste than the average person. The intensities of sweetness, bitterness, saltiness, sourness and umami (MSG or protein-flavoured savoury-ness) are amplified and burn sensation from chilli is also more intense.

This ability is genetic. There are more women than men and more Asians than Europeans who are supertasters. Supertasters tend to have lower BMI than non-supertasters because they get satisfied from the taste of food more easily. Also, supertasters are less inclined towards alcoholism they require more effort to overcome the bitter taste of alcohol.

One bad thing about being a supertaster is having to endure the exceedingly bitter taste of vegetables. But being a supertaster is no excuse for not eating vegetables. Anyone who does not eat enough vegetables is more prone to colon cancer. There is no cure for supertasters but there are ways to block or reduce certain tastes, e.g. salt blocks bitterness.

To minimise the bitter taste of vegetables, I usually put some gravy, if available, on my vegetables and swallow them as quickly as I can, then immediately eat something else to replace the bitter aftertaste in my mouth. I know I'm supposed to chew my food well but I figured I'll never eat any vegetables if I'm required to chew them finely!


Hayabusa said...

Well i should count myself lucky for being a retard-taster & smeller. although i've always been ok with bitter stuff, i'm not sure i can handle them all the time. & the thought of me having to hate vegetables gives me shivers...

Anonymous said...

lower BMI...what a great benefit. No wonder you have great tummy.

Anonymous said...

But Paulaner really has sweet beer! Though its quite tough on the shallow pockets of a student. Their stout is really really GOOD!

Favourite beer so far.. next to kilkenny.

Anonymous said...

Im consider myself as supertaster.
The good thing bout it, one can "detect" whether the food has gone wrong, e.g. food expired / rotten.
The bad thing bout it, is supertaster is very picky eater.
Though i can tolerate with all kinds of bitterness of food but there is ONLY one food I rather go fly kite than eating this common vege called BITTER GOURD but as elderly people says person who eats bitter gourd has better tendency of withstanding the hardship of life. I think there's some truth to it...


Yu-Kym said...

Hayabusa, do you have a good ability to differentiate between subtle changes in colour tones? (there's a reason for asking this)

Anon, I'm "sad" I can't ever understand what it's like to drink sweet beer!

errishuman, I heard that old saying too but I don't believe it. So if we don't want a hard life, don't eat bitter things? :P haaa but I don't think it works that way.

David said...


Are you a supersmeller?

Many super tasters also have super sensitive noses.


Yu-Kym said...

David, I am a supersmeller. But I am not sure whether supersmellers are supertasters because my elder sister is a supersmeller but not a supertaster.