The tongue is not fully able to taste if it is dry, because saliva plays a key role in moistening and dissolving chemicals in food. The receptors of the taste buds are activated when they come into contact with these dissolved chemicals. Once the receptors are able to determine the specific taste, they send the information as a message to the brain. In addition to saliva, a sense of smell typically is required to taste food properly, and stuffy noses have been found to make food seem less flavorful.
More about taste:
- Scientists do not classify "spicy" as a taste. The sensation comes from the brain, which perceives it as pain.
- Research has found that women in their 40s who are super tasters, meaning that they have extremely sensitive taste buds, are 20% thinner than other women their own age. This is thought to be the result of sweets and dairy fats tasting overly rich to them.
- Historically, there have been four types of taste: sweet, sour, bitter and salty. In 1910, a Japanese scientist discovered a type of taste called umami, or savory.