Water Tasting

Jun 18, 2020

By Devina Thiono 

When you go to a different place, you may notice that the water tastes different than what you are used to at home. Even different commercial water bottles, like Dasani or Fiji Water, can taste different from one another. A lot of this has to do with the amount of minerals present in the water,  water pH, and water source.

Calcium, magnesium, and sodium are among some of the more common minerals found in drinking water. A study showed that tap water may provide up to 16% of the daily recommended intake of calcium and 31% of magnesium. However, this depends A LOT on where you live and how much water you gulp down in a day. It was also found that water that contains a high level of certain minerals – such as bicarbonate, sulfate, calcium, and magnesium – and ones that fall in the higher pH range (close to pH 8) were more palatable.

Where we get our drinking water from can affect the mineral content and hence its taste. In the US, community water supplies that source tap water are usually treated with fluoride to prevent tooth decay, and this can affect water taste. Additionally, pipe material and its age could also contribute to the water taste. Water from freshwater springs is usually affected by the amount of minerals collected as water flows from the mountain, rainfall, and the terrain it passes. While well water collected from the underground will contain a lot of soil minerals even after filtration. 

Since taste highly affects our perception, where does water fall into the 5 major tastes: bitter, sweet, sour, salty, umami? Often thought as flavorless, one study showed that water activates the sour taste sensor in mice. If water activates the bitter taste sensor, we would associate water as harmful! This finding could help scientists to further study what message does sour taste convey to the brain.

In conclusion, water does indeed have a taste and it is mostly affected by the mineral contents in it and our own experience with a certain taste. If you want to take water tasting to another level, water sommelier is also a profession! 

Edited by Jenna Beam and Yogitha Chareddy