Does water have a taste?

Recent research indicates that rodents taste water

It was commonly believed that water taste due to its channelling

It is taught at school that water is colourless, odourless and tasteless. And, yet, we disagree every time we drink from different taps. This is due to the different mineral levels in the water across the nation, as well as channelling systems, some of which require osmosis systems to improve the taste of water. It is thought that water does not have its own taste, although findings suggest that the opposite is true. Water may trigger impulse, thus demonstrating that it has its own flavour. Maybe Aristotle got it wrong all along.


The taste of water throughout history

Aristotle defined, back in 330BC, that water had no flavour, and, if it had any, it was due to remainders of flavours previously tasted. Meaning, if we eat cheese before drinking water, this sip will most likely remind us of this food. Several centuries later, psychologist Linda Bartoshuk, from the University of Florida, determined that saliva had (even more) flavour than water.

However, there is no evidence that lasts a hundred years, and scientists from the California Institute of Technology have found out what seems to be a sixth sense – developed in the tongue precisely to identify the liquid element that we are analysing today. In this research published by the Nature Neuroscience, it is described how certain mammals – specifically rodents –have receptors that are activated when drinking potable water, which are placed where those receptors for bitter tastes are.

Responsiveness of receptor cells to taste (TRCs) in the animals’ mouths to pure water (together with other nutrients) was measured. During the test, responses to the five basic flavours – sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami – were recorded in different parts of the tongue. The team deactivated multiple taste receptor cells to test if mice still responded to flavours: receptors for saltiness would not get triggered with salt, whereas when blocking the bitter receptors, there was no response when mice drank water and stopped drinking it.


Not only mammals

It was already contrasted that water activated taste responses in some insects or birds, and now this research extends the list to some mammals. However, it is still to be confirmed whether water has flavour for humans, as our sense of taste may have developed differently. It is a great breakthrough nonetheless and it reminds us that we are still far from knowing everything about the human being, and about water as specie.

Maximum control over water at home

Tasteless or not, we are made up of up to 75% of water – essential element of life. Water is health and that is why from Clever we recommend you the Komeo systems. This leading-edge technology will keep water free of contaminants and enables live consumption monitoring through an app on your smartphone or tablet, as well as receiving notifications on system malfunctioning (status of items subject to wear, leaks, excess pressure, etc.).


The taste of water may remain a big question mark, but Clever kitchen and bathroom taps will have you covered – guaranteed. Stay tuned for more posts on our latest products.

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