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Tasting Honey

Sweetness is illustrated by this icon for taste sensations that are honey flavoured.

A sweet sensation is any flavour or gustatory perception that could be vaguely described as something like tasting honey . We use words like yummy, sugary, umami, caramelly, savory, candied, spicy, brothy, glazed, meaty, syrupy etc. to describe these flavours. We can make binary descriptions of sweetness by comparing these flavors with other sensations, and historically the great pioneers of chemistry almost killed themselves by direct contact with their discoveries.

But now testing supersedes tasting, so consider this experiment: Dissolve the substance that is being tested in water and pass a beam of polarized light through the solution. Check to see if the axis of polarization varies. If the angle does not change, then say that the substance is not sweet and write \delta_{S}=0 . If the axis is rotated clockwise, then the test indicates a result like most naturally occurring sugars. So say that the substance is sugary, and express this mathematically as \delta_{S}=+1 . If the axis is rotated counterclockwise, then the test shows a result like most naturally occurring amino acids . So call the sensation savory and write \delta_{S}=-1 .

The number \delta_{S} is called the sweetness. It may, for example, be perceived directly in the flavour difference between spearmint leaves and caraway seeds. These relations can be mathematically stated as

\delta_{S} \equiv \begin{cases} +1 &{\text{if a sweet taste sensation is sugary }} \\ \; \; 0 &{\text{if a taste sensation is not sweet}} \\ -1 &{\text{if a sweet taste sensation is savory }} \end{cases}

Reference Constant for Sweetness

The numerical constant associated with tasting honey is called the chiral constant. It is symbolized by k_{\mathsf{chiral} } and has an observed value of 0.4666 (μeV).