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About Taste

About Taste

How Taste Works

Umami, the 5th Taste

The Importance of Taste

The Role of Smell in What We Taste

Take The Jelly Bean Challenge!


The Role Of Smell In What We Taste

What we perceive as the taste of a food is not just the work of our taste buds. In fact, the sense of smell plays an equal, if not greater role in helping us detect tastes. Scientists have found that when we're young, we can detect about 20,000 different odors in about 10 different intensities. However, we can only detect about 5 primary tastes.

Odors are detected through the nostrils or through the mouth when chewing a food (known as the retronasal route). When you can't smell or perceive odors via the retronasal route, your ability to taste food diminishes greatly. Who hasn't experienced taste loss during a cold, for example? Without smell, there is no taste. In case it's been a while since your last cold and you can't remember this effect, or if you just feel like doing a fun experiment, try the Jelly Bean Challenge. If you're really brave, move on to Munch an Onion!