Gary Pickering and colleagues from Brock University in Ontario showed changes in the temperature of foods and drinks have an effect on the intensity of sour, bitter and astringent -- such as cranberry juice -- tastes, but not sweetness.
"Thermal testers" are 20 percent to 30 percent of the population who when heating or cooling small areas of the tongue draws out a taste sensation without the presence of food or drink, Pickering said.
Over three sessions, 74 study participants recruited from Brock University and the local community -- a combination of thermal tasters, "super" tasters, or people who are particularly sensitive to tastes in general; and regular tasters -- tasted sweet, sour, bitter and astringent solutions at two different temperatures.
For all three types of tasters, temperature influenced the maximum perceived intensity from astringent, bitter and sour solutions, but not from the sweet solutions, the study said.
"For some individuals, temperature alone can elicit taste sensations. These individuals seem to be more sensitive to tastes in general," Pickering said in a statement. "What our work shows is that, in addition to these sensitive individuals, the temperature of a specific taste can affect how intense it tastes."
The findings were published in the journal Chemosensory Perception.