Have you ever wondered why anything mint seems to give lemon juice this weird aftertaste?
We’re certain you’ve tried this before, you just can’t explain why.
This hack is one of the fun ways to trick your tongue - even your brain into understanding new flavors.
Here’s the thing: our tongue is never a blank slate. On it are taste buds that always react variably when the environment around them changes. What you just ate can actually alter the flavor of what you’re about to eat next.
Whether it’s better or for worse - your tongue decides.
Let the hacking begin
Try eating an artichoke then drinking a glass of water immediately after.
You might begin to notice that the water tasted sweet, strangely. Why is that?
Try chewing a miracle fruit minutes before eating a slice of lemon.
The sourness? Gone. What supposedly is sour tastes divinely sweet.
What is happening with these taste-bending parlor tricks?
In a previous article, we wrote:
Your tongue is covered with these clusters of taste-sensitive cells. Now each cell has a membrane covered with proteins that function like your doorbells.
When a trigger, say a molecule in the food that you just ate or the drink you just drank - hits these doorbells, a message is sent from these cells to your brain. From that point, it’s a sensation of madness. You are bound to taste either the sweetness, bitterness, sourness, saltiness or for some - umami.
What happens with the artichoke and water?
Artichoke has a key substance called cynarin. Imagine cynarin as a cream but for your tongue - the longer you leave them on, the more they are absorbed.
When you eat an artichoke, the cynarin quietly seeps into your sweet receptors without actually activating them. Now as you go about your day to day tasks, the longer you leave this taste on your buds, the deeper they are absorbed.
When you drink a glass of water, these cynarin molecules are simply washed away which releases your sweet receptors. This tricks your brain into thinking what you just drank was sweet.
And while this is only what they call a “phantom taste,” it feels so distinct and real that you would think you’re sipping a sweet drink.
Now, what happens with miracle fruit and lemons?
What cynarin is to artichoke, miraculin is to miracle fruit.
This protein attaches itself to your tongue like a leech does to the wall or a caterpillar to a leaf. This protein is initially imperceptible or difficult to distinguish taste-wise until something acidic enters your mouth. It can be a slice of lemon, a sunkist or salt-and-vinegar chips.
Here goes the interesting part: the PH drop that this acidic food causes changes the shape of the miraculin. This is the ultimate secret that activates your tongue’s sweet receptor and tricks your brain by changing the shape of these very receptors. This is why instead of the expected sourness, you taste the sweetness of the lemon instead.
That’s the taste-bending experience you have come to know with the miracle berry.
Hacking your taste buds sounds rather fun and enjoyable now, doesn’t it?
You’re bound to experience more with Richberry.
Greenwood, V. (2014). How to hack your taste buds. Bbc.com. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20141214-how-to-hack-your-taste-buds.