Literature analysis in relation to research on the five basic tastes

Andy Wai Kan Yeung (Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology, Applied Oral Sciences, Faculty of Dentistry, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China)
Thomas Hummel (Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Smell and Taste Clinic, TU Dresden University of Technology, Dresden, Germany)

Nutrition & Food Science

ISSN: 0034-6659

Publication date: 27 June 2019



This study aims to investigate the literature concerning the five basic tastes and find out who contributed to these publications, where they were published and what concepts were investigated.


The Web of Science was searched to identify the relevant articles. For each paper, the full record and cited references were analyzed.


Sweetness received the most attention, with 6,445 publications, 144,648 citations and h-index of 137. It was followed by bitterness (5,606 publications and 125,525 citations), sourness (1,841 publications and 40,696 citations), umami (1,569 publications and 39,120 citations) and saltiness (1,547 publications and 33,627 citations). Though umami taste had similar publication number as salty and sour tastes, it had the highest number of average citations per publication (24.9). The USA, Japan, Germany and England were major contributors to research on every basic taste. Chemical Senses was the major outlet of taste papers. Terms from the titles suggested that multiple tastes were often co-investigated. Ikeda (1909) and Kodama (1913) were identified as the seminal references that laid the foundation of umami research.


Umami, although only added relatively late to the family of basic tastes, is a highly investigated principle that receives similar amount of attention as some other basic tastes, such as sourness and saltiness.



Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interests: The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Funding: This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

Informed consent: This paper does not contain any studies with human subjects and thus no informed consent is required.

Ethical approval: This paper does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by the any of the authors.


Yeung, A.W.K. and Hummel, T. (2019), "Literature analysis in relation to research on the five basic tastes", Nutrition & Food Science, Vol. 50 No. 1, pp. 34-46.



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