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I bought some stevia powder today and tried to make waffles with it, replacing the sugar. However, no matter how much stevia I poured into the dough (carefully adding tea spoon by tea spoon, tasting it each time), I couldn't really taste any sweetness.

Other family members said the dough was already very sweet.

Then I tried a pinch of stevia powder purely, and it tasted slightly bitter at first and minimally sweet after a few seconds.

From the description, stevia should be magnitudes sweeter than sugar though.

Is it possible that some people don't have the necessary taste receptors that would react on stevia and are therefore "taste blind" to its sweetness? If so, are there any numbers or guesses how many people are unable to taste it? I could not find any online resources about that, but it would be useful to know how likely e.g. a guest will not be able to taste it.

Additionally, might there be any "workarounds", like adding something to make the stevia sweetness available?

Update: I just checked the product I bought again, it's actually a mixture (proportions not mentioned in the ingredients list) of maltodextrin and steviol glycosides.

  • Not sure if this question would be better suited at e.g. Biology, please advise if you think it is off-topic here. – Byte Commander Sep 28 '16 at 15:20
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    I think this is a brilliant question - and on topic IMHO. Welcome to the site! – Stephie Sep 28 '16 at 15:47
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    FWIW: I experience stevia mostly as bitter first, with a sweet after tone last. I have a feeling it's related to quantities: That when stevia is used, and I experience it as bitter, it's used in too large a quantity. But I'm not using the stuff my self (nothing wrong with sugar), so I'm not quite sure what it is. +1 For the question. – Willem van Rumpt Sep 28 '16 at 17:08
  • @WillemvanRumpt Yeah, the bitter taste was only there when I tasted pure stevia powder, but the dough contained it in low concentration and some others seemingly found it to taste sweet - but not me. – Byte Commander Sep 28 '16 at 17:10
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    Please note that your typical off-the-shelf "stevia sweetener" is 99% filler and 1% actual stevia. Because the steviol glycosides are so sweet that measuring such tiny amounts be extremely difficult so they are usually diluted to typical sugar sweetness. What you taste may be the filler. (although one of typical stevia glicosides does indeed taste bitter) – Agent_L Sep 29 '16 at 7:44

12 Answers 12

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There's some variation in how people respond to Stevia:

From 2013: Multiple genes manage how people taste sweeteners

another study recently published in the journal Chemosensory Perception, Allen had 122 participants taste two stevia extracts, RebA -- Rebaudioside A -- and RebD -- Rebaudioside D. Stevia is a South American plant that has served as a sweetener for centuries, according to the researchers. While the plant is becoming more popular as a natural non-nutritive sweetener, consumers have reported a variety of tastes from stevia-based sweeteners, including bitterness.

No mention of people not tasting the sweet at all, but it is a big gene pool. In me, the stuff is a slow,tight binder. It takes a while for the sweet to come on once I've eaten the stevia, and it takes a minute or two for the sweet to wear off after I've had it.

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    Ooooh, recognize that too. Once the sweet after taste has come, it lingers, longer than other sweeteners. Come to think of it: I have the same with other sugar substitutes (like aspartame) as well. Bitter first, with an (for me) unpleasant harsh sweet after taste that lingers. – Willem van Rumpt Sep 28 '16 at 17:44
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I don't know how good of an answer this is, but I really dislike the stuff. I can't taste sweetness at all from it. Mostly, even when eaten straight, it just tastes bitter and there is no "sweet" taste.

When I tried using it to replace sugar in cookies, I had added equal amounts of stevia powder to what was supposed to be sugar. (1 cup for 1 cup, your not supposed to do that). I couldn't taste it at all.

I was told that it was way too sweet. But, while I could taste the flour, the vanilla, and even the raw eggs, there was no flavor of sugar like sweetness.

So at lest for me, it doesn't seem to work as a sweetener.

  • Interesting, so there seems to be at least one other person sharing the same or a similar experience. Thanks. – Byte Commander Sep 29 '16 at 8:23
  • Me too: I tried Stevia drops as well as powder - I couldn't taste any sweetness. I don't have much of a sense of smell and I can't taste most herbs either, so I may not be a good example. I don't rely on my taste buds when cooking. – No'am Newman Sep 29 '16 at 9:33
  • Seriously, though, I also think stevia has quite a bitter quality to it. – Revetahw Sep 29 '16 at 16:16
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    stevia.net/conversion.html four "the effect" of one cup of sugar your supposed to add 1 TSP, of course this varies a lot, but I was under the impression that you should be using WAY LESS stevia then you would sugar. – coteyr Sep 29 '16 at 19:05
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    Stevia powder from the grocery store is usually cut with something less sweet, commonly dextrose. Dextrose is just another name for the sugar D-Glucose: Glucose. – Wayfaring Stranger Oct 4 '16 at 18:23
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I find, myself, that it's really easy to become taste-blind to stevia - that in higher concentrations or sometimes with repeated use it overwhelms the tongue and doesn't get translated as sweetness at all, but rather something like the taste equivalent of white noise. That "magnitudes sweeter" can really mean an overwhelming amount of too much. It might work better to try very low and dilute quantities, instead of a pinch of pure powder directly to the tongue, if you're not getting sweetness out of it.

Is there a way to fix it? Not quite sure. I find it helps to mix sweeteners - part stevia and part honey, or regular sugar, or whatever. Just a little bit can kick start the sweet receptors - so it tastes a lot sweeter than of just the regular sweetener was added, but has less calories and so on than if only the regular sweetener was used. I also find it helpful to alternate sweeteners, or 'reset' my threshold every now and then, dropping all sweeteners for a few days and then slowly reintroducing them until things taste sweet again (usually at far lower concentrations than before the reset, since taste saturation creeps up).

I expect if someone was totally taste blind to stevia's sweetness, or had a very low threshold for it - the alternate sweetener would make sure the dish was not completely devoid of sweet taste. And it might be wise, to have some alternate sweetener on hand for any guests (and yourself) to make up the difference in taste - so for your waffles, adding syrup might make up the difference even if your family finds them sweet enough without. It's not too much different from having salt or hot sauce on the table for those with different tastes. Honestly, it isn't that strange for more than one sweet to be served with each other - like whipped cream or ice cream or syrups - so as long as at least one of them has a non-stevia base, your guests should be able to find something workable.

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I have good taste perception, and have had genetic testing done as well (23andMe, when they were doing the medical and trair testing). Due to major taste genes, I'm supposed to be almost unable to taste bitter things. PTC paper, for instance, just tastes like paper with a touch of soap, not bitter at all. But I do taste bitter things, like coffee, grapefruit juice, "bitters," wormwood, etc.. While I love Splenda, and don't taste anything funky with aspartame, saccharin is just disgusting to me, and stevia has zero sweetness. Apparently I taste bitterness via a different gene related to liking salt, which I got from my salt-loving dad. Using salt hides bitter with that gene. However, I don't like salt like he did, because to me it tastes very metallic in amounts most people find enjoyable; it's like licking a galvanised steel pole or something. There are also genes for enjoying cilantro, which tastes like soap to some people (I'm heterozygous for both, and like it in moderation). I really wanted to like stevia, since one can buy the plant and grow it in one's kitchen, but even the leaves themselves taste like nothing to me (not bitter, either, as some described).

While none of us seems to have a definitive scientific answer, our anecdotes do add up to a testable hypothesis: Some people do not taste stevia, likely homozygous for a faulty taste gene specific for it, while heterozygous people taste it somewhat, and homozygous people for tasting it find it overwhelmingly sweet.

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I cannot taste Stevia or Monkfruit at all, & recently lost the ability to taste Splenda, after having used it for god knows how long. No matter how much I add to coffee or cereal, there is no taste difference from any of these 3 sweeteners. I tried 4 or 5 different brands of Stevia; all blends, & one pure stevia that wasn't even in the food isles....still nothing.

The funny thing is that I am very sensitive to the taste of sugar; I like sweet things but have little tolerance for sweetness, same for my mother. When I used sugar, I would use 1/3 the amount any recipe called for.

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I use SweetLeaf Liquid Stevia Sweet Drops to sweeten our Sunday evening yogurt. It works for me, but my niece, eating from the same batch, doesn't taste the sweetness. She said she likes monk fruit extract, so I got both of us bottles of Smart138 Monk Drops. She thinks it works very well, but I don't get much from it. So, I'll mix our bowls separately - mine with the Stevia drops and hers with the Monk Drops.

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I find it varies hugely on the type and brand of Stevia. NOW Foods make a version called BetterStevia which is Stevia dissolved in vegetable glycerin. I can eat it without it ever getting too sweet or bitter. If, however, you get their regular brand or any other type which uses alcohol as the solvent(?) - the liquid in which it's dissolved, too much becomes bitter.

The powdered forms are different again - some taste just sweet and some turn bitter if you use too much.

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I'm not sure if this is helpful, please ignore the url name lol.

http://www.cosmopolitan.com/food-cocktails/a58263/how-to-give-up-artificial-sweetener/

She talks about not realizing how much she had become "taste blind" to the artificial in her sweetener. Same principle. Maybe you happen to use more stevia in quantity or routine than other people of your household and so they can taste the subtle difference when you don't?

  • I used stevia for the first time in my life, same as the other people in my household who tasted it. – Byte Commander Oct 1 '16 at 20:54
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I find stevia to be sweet in iced tea, but I can't taste it at all with chocolate. I've tried to make hot chocolate as well as cookies, but there's nothing at all sweet about them. I tried to make a cream cheese frosting last night, but it wasn't sweet either. I thought I was strange!

  • I disagree with the several Flags this answer has received. Personally I think it does tangentially answer the question asked, so I am going to leave it for now. I'll bring it up with the other mods. If anyone would like to discuss the issue, please bring it up on metaa – Jolenealaska Jan 28 at 11:35
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So! I found out I cannot taste saccharin when I was being fitted for my m95 mask at work. They use 'sweets' aka aerosolized saccharin to test the fit. Guess who failed? (Me)

This has caused me to try other things, leading to stevia. I taste nothing sweet. I will get the stevia in the raw and it tastes like metallic flour to me. Mine is related to genetics, fun enough. It happens rarely, but does happen.

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I get no sweet taste from stevia at all. I get a repulsive bitterness i find the product has no sweetness. Food and drinks with it in are vile.

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I also cannot taste Stevia at all, which is how I found this when I searched "Why doesn't Stevia taste sweet to me". It is not just that it tastes bitter and that is overpowering (which, I do taste the bitter, but not enough to drown out other flavors), but I taste no sweet whatsoever. Not a dull sweet, not an odd sweet, absolutely no sweet. Honestly, it is really frustrating since Stevia is one of THE healthiest sweet alternatives. My mom uses it religiously, and she has got many different kinds, and I have tried every single one she gets including BetterStevia... not once I have I tasted sweet. I just wanted to chime in and say that we definitely are out there! I do a lot of baking and I do have some chemistry background, and I have tried adding things that might make it bind to taste buds better or in a different way, but absolutely nothing has worked for me so I just stick with Splenda unfortunately.

protected by Stephie Apr 1 at 14:38

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