Science - Five Basic Tastes

Posted on: 12/05/2022

Have you ever been to a buffet and found yourself surrounded by a wide variety of taste sensations? People are generally able to discern five basic tastes: sweet, umami (savoury), salty, sour and bitter. How sensitive is a person's tongue to these basic tastes? Is it easier to detect some flavours at low concentrations compared to others? Last Monday Y10 biologists had the opportunity to find out by exploring their taste thresholds for sweetness, saltiness, and sourness.

They first had to make a 10 % solution of salt and used the process of serial dilution to make a series of solutions. Next, they rinsed their mouth with water and wiped their tongue. They then dipped a clean cotton swab into the 10 % solution and smeared it all around the surface of their tongue. They repeated this with 1 %, 0.1 % and 0.01 % salt solutions and determined which solution is the lowest concentration at which they could still taste saltiness. They then repeated this activity with different concentrations of vinegar and sugar. 

This activity enabled students to get an insight into what it’s like to study A-level Biology. 

A huge thank you to our amazing Y12 scientists for their help: Roberto, Anuyah, Fardous, Sana and Mania.

Written by Ms Shuman