A person with an extremely strong sense of taste. Also: super-taster, super taster.
"We live in different taste worlds," said Linda Bartoshuk, an experimental psychologist at Yale University. Some people have more taste receptors and find strong tastes unpleasantly intense. They shudder at bitter flavors that most of us shrug off and that some of us can't detect at all. These "supertasters" avoid the bitter but healthful flavonoids that abound in broccoli, grapefruit, and other good-for-you food, so they have a greater risk of cancer. On the other hand, supertasters tend to be thinner, with lower risk of cardiovascular disease, because they also avoid very salty, fatty, and sugary foods.
Cathryn M. Delude, "A matter of taste," The Boston Globe, December 24, 2002
Alexandra Logue was the sort of finicky eater who drives parents to distraction. At 1 year of age she wouldn't touch anything except bread and milk. Fifteen years later she couldn't stand such teen-age staples as spaghetti or Coke. She still refuses to eat fish.
''I'm what's known as a 'super taster,' '' said Dr. Logue, an experimental psychologist at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and author of ''The Psychology of Eating and Drinking'' (W. H. Freeman, 1986). Dr. Logue's genetic ability to taste flavors that most other people can't taste led to her interest in why children and adults have very different responses to certain foods.
''People say very finicky children are doing it for attention,'' she said, ''but they may actually be tasting different things than we do.''
Lawrence Kutner, "Parent and child," The New York Times, January 12, 1989
Taste researchers divide people into three categories: nontasters, medium tasters, and supertasters. This gustatory hierarchy is based on the relative sensitivity to a bitter compound called 6-n-propylthiouracil which, thankfully, also goes by the shorter (and pronounceable) name PROP. Nontasters about 25 percent of the population can't taste the bitterness in PROP at all; medium tasters about 50 percent of us taste the bitterness but aren't bothered by it; supertasters the remaining 25 percent are overwhelmed by the bitterness in PROP, to the point of revulsion.
Why the super taste? It turns out that there's a strong (and not at all surprising) correlation between the density of a person's taste buds and that person's supertaster status. For example, supertasters can have as many as 1,000 taste buds per square centimeter, while nontasters can have as few as 40.