Have you ever tried out a new flavour of baby food for your little one? You will be trying to interpret the signals of the decision process, to determine whether they like the new flavour or whether you need to take cover! Signals which are physical, neurochemical or memory-based will ultimately help you decide if you like the combination of the five fundamental tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, or savoury. Age is one of the major factors in how our brains read, or misread, all those signals.
Children are notorious for having a sweet tooth, in an attempt to fuel their rapid growth period. Children are extra-sensitive when it comes to their senses, some researchers even say kids are super-powered when it comes to taste, particularly bitterness (that why you didn’t like coffee until you were 25!). As well as taste buds, kids also have super-powered senses of smell, this is why they can be so sensitive to strong perfumes, or your morning coffee!
The good news is we won’t necessarily be addicted to sugar forever. The bad new however, is that’s due to our sense of taste slowly decreasing. As we age, our taste buds stop regenerating, and our sense of smell dulls.
Ageing taste buds
An average adult taster might have 10,000 taste buds in his or her mouth, but a supertaster (only 15 to 25 percent of the population) with an extra sensitive tongue, could be gifted with twice as many. A non-taster, meanwhile, might have to get by with half the normal number. We cannot increase the number of these, but you can train yourself to pick up more of the aromas and notes within taste testing.
As we grow out of childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood, our senses lose the sharp edge they started off with, allowing us to become more adventurous and expanding our taste experiences. As we grow older, taste becomes more a matter of our minds and memories than our physical reaction to sweetness or bitterness.
Do you now prefer a stronger coffee than you once did? Well enjoy it while you can as it all starts to go downhill around 40! That's when our taste buds begin to stop growing back. Once we hit middle age, the buds continue to die and be shed, but a smaller number regenerate as the years go on.
Be more adventurous with your flavours, experience new coffee, explore your taste buds now while you can appreciate the flavours at their best!