Are You a Supertaster?

For serious foodies, there’s nothing more embarrassing than being exposed as having a poor palate. Recently, I had a quite horrifying experience at Ample Hills Creamery in Brooklyn. Everyone in the borough has raved about their “salted crack caramel,” a deep, savory ice cream rich with the intense notes of burnt sugar. But when I finally tried Ample Hill’s caramel, I absolutely, 100% hated it. At first I thought there was something wrong with my spoon; that’s how much I disliked the strong, bitter taste of it. Even as three friends next to me all practically had a collective oral orgasm while shoving the ice cream into their faces, I couldn’t get the taste out of my mouth quickly enough. I went home and literally washed my mouth out. Not kidding.

What had happened? Is my palate too weak to support the taste of this cracked-out ice cream? Or…am I just a SUPERTASTER? Many of you have likely already heard about this concept. If not, here’s a brief intro from

Supertasters experience taste with far greater intensity than the average person. About 25 percent of Americans are supertasters, a group with an unusually high number of taste buds. If you love food more than most, you may have inherited supertaster genes.

Evidence suggests that supertasters are more sensitive to bitter tastes and fattiness in food, and often show lower acceptance of foods that are high in these taste qualities. Supertasters tend to dislike strong, bitter foods like raw broccoli, grapefruit juice, coffee and dark chocolate.

A-ha! So maybe it wasn’t a palate failure, but just an instance of my true taste bud elitism coming out. Clearly, the ES team needed to investigate this further. Armed with a packet of tests from, we got to work.

The test for identifying a supertaster consists of sticking  a thin piece of paper on your tongue. The chemical applied to the Supertaster Test tastes bland, bitter or utterly vile depending on the genes you inherited for taste. The stronger the taste, the more “super” your buds. Here’s how the Simmer crew reacted:

ML: I came home from dinner a little tipsy after several glasses of wine to find my supertaster test strip in the mail. I ran to the bathroom and tore open the package and stuck the thing almost down my throat. To my surprise, the taste was almost unbearable — like I was licking a bowl of nail polish remover. I couldn’t get the taste out of my mouth for about 10 minutes.

Borracho: I grew up certain that I had some untapped superpower and now I realize it is true….I am a Supertaster! The intense bitterness and salivation that occurred apparently prove this. I don’t know if the test means shit, but the memory of that intense, bitter metallic tang definitely made my next meal taste super!

Forkitude: This “Supertaster test” tastes like a piece of paper. Being a “supertaster” sounds like a miserable existence. Supertasters dislike strong foods like COFFEE AND DARK CHOCOLATE? They find highly fatty and sugary foods LESS PALATABLE?? What kind of life is this??  This doesn’t seem super to me at all. I think in this case it’s good to be a loser.

Jessica: I’m definitely not super! It tasted like paper. Or what I imagine paper would taste like, if I licked it. Now I’m going to go eat some dark chocolate and drink grapefruit juice.

Miss K: I am with you in non-taster land.  My husband, on the other hand, was able to taste the supposed bitter flavor.  Which of course meant a weekend of meals that included him saying, “As a supertaster…”  Also, my 1 year old just ate a raw onion.  Looks like I’m not the only non-taster in the family.

Emily: That strip is hella bitter! It, like, hurt my tongue! This makes me a supertaster and therefore a superior human being, right?! EXCEPT: “Supertasters tend to dislike strong, bitter foods like raw broccoli, grapefruit juice, coffee, and dark chocolate.” WRONG WRONG WRONG, I love all of those things so much! Bitter and sour flavors like grapefruit are my absolute favorite. And coffee?! Excuse me?! Also, let’s get real about the “research indicates that nontasters may have a greater preference for alcohol and consume more alcoholic beverages” … um, let’s check those findings, random tastebud scientists. I think we can all agree that my preference for alcohol is sky-high. I think the world still has a lot to discover about the true nature of us supertasters… although I really like the part where it tells me I will “tend to weigh less.” Finally the perfect way to justify my late-night Mexican takeout binges?

BS: As for me, I put the strip in my mouth and immediately tasted extreme bitterness. I was surprised by this because I do love coffee, broccoli and other bitter foods, alhtough I am not a big fan of dark chocolate or grapefruit juice, so maybe this is exactly what happened with my salted crack caramel failure — my taste buds are simply too delicate for something so sharp and bitter. However, I did find myself inadvertent putting the bitter taste test strip back in my mouth several times, even though I hated it. OK, I might have an eating problem.

(Photo: bdu)

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  • Donna February 16, 2012  

    That’s so interesting! I haven’t taken the test, but I know there are foods I avoid 100% because they’re so bitter…BEER, coffee, brussel sprouts, red wine, etc. I love the way coffee smels, but to me it never tastes like anything but pure bitter evil! 🙂

    Never heard of this issue before, so it’s interesting & maybe I’m not quite the freak my friends think I am since I can’t drink beer or coffee!

  • erica February 17, 2012  

    in science class in high school i was one of only two kids in class who could taste the nasty chemical (what was that stuff?) when we were studying genetics… but i don’t think i’m a super taster. thank goodness! i love cilantro, kombucha, sour candy… hate coffee, though. i think it’s the smell.

  • Samantha November 2, 2012  

    This really makes me want to get the supertaster test strip. I remember eating some candy as a child that most everyone loved but one of the flavors was so revolting for me I actually got a bad migraine and a wish to watch that candy burn! lol

  • Regina October 21, 2013  

    I’m a taster, having confirmed it in Bio class. My mouth is salivating just thinking about the strong bitterness of that test strip. EW!

    BUT! I love coffee (not black, and not very strong), love dark chocolate, love orange juice and grapefruit juice and can eat a lemon slice, peel and all, love brussels sprouts and broccoli (raw, cooked, with cheese, without cheese).

    I got here, because of tasting something that tasted like acetone in my brussels sprouts, tonight. I don’t remember ever tasting it before, so, being a graduate of molecular biology, I was curious to find out if under-ripe sprouts have a high concentration of acetone, for some reason. My taste buds say they do.

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