Drinking carbonated water has been in vogue since at least 1767, and it doesn't seem to be going anywhere. So what gives us our taste for the sparkling stuff?
It's still not completely clear what characterizes the sensation of carbonation. People assume carbonation is the feeling of bubbles popping on the tongue, but when people drink carbonated beverages in a pressure chamber, where bubbles don't burst, they describe it the same way. So it's not purely mechanical.
Chemically, adding CO2 to water creates carbonic acid, which is tasted by sour-sensing taste cells. Research has suggested that a certain enzyme, carbonic anhydrase, sits on those cells and reacts with the acid to cause carbonated water's familiar popping sensation. (Fun fact: climbers who take altitude-sickness drugs that block the enzyme, then drink champagne, report the bubbly as having a dishwater-y taste.) That enzyme, combined with a reaction occurring in the body's trigeminal nerve, could be what gives carbonated water its unique sensation. But if you were an alien studying human taste habits (for the coming food-based invasion?), you might expect carbonated water to be downright repellent: the carbon dioxide in the fizzy drinks triggers pain receptors.
We should ostensibly hate that taste of CO2-based goodness.
Another study shows that increased amounts of carbon dioxide in a beverage can lead to a perceived increase in the coldness of the beverage, while actually cooling the water increases irritation. That indicates there's some kind of relationship between carbonated water's "bite" and an enjoyable cooling sensation, although the chemical process underlying the effect isn't totally clear.
several CO2-detecting systems, possibly a gift from evolution for detecting not-so-great stuff that emits carbon dioxide, like rotting food."We tried to get mice to drink carbonated water--and they don't. They don't like it," says Nicholas Ryba, a senior investigator at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. That, Ryba says, indicates there's not a chemical process that naturally draws all mammals to carbonated water. Ditto for horses and other animals, says Bruce Bryant, a senior research associate at the Monell Center, a nonprofit research institute for taste and smell. Animals have
One theory why Homo sapiens, Bryant says, are the exception to the rule: "There are certain people who enjoy life at the edge." (Lock up these carbonated-water-drinking thrill-seekers immediately, for their sakes and for the public's.)
That's actually not a crazy theory, and Ryba agrees it's one possibility. The closest analogy is spicy foods: back in 1997, psychologist Paul Rozin released a paper arguing that spicy foods were an example of people "enjoy[ing] situations in which their bodies warn them of danger but they know the are really okay." Same, the idea goes, for carbonated water and its tingly, mildly irritating effects.
To top things off, Bryant adds: "We're still trying to figure out when people say something's 'refreshing,' what that is."
So the science is a little messy. Oh, well. Enjoy your tasty (?) bubble-water.
Back in grade school we had a drinking fountain that would (I'm sure by some mistake) produce copious amounts of tiny air bubbles. The water would come out a milky color and it had similar feel of the bubbles in carbonated drinks but it did not have the sharpness. The weirdness of it made me avoid that drinking fountain but the sensation was not repelling.
There are several ice cream bars that seem to coat your mouth with an imperceptible layer of fat or chocolatey wax that either acts as a catalyst to the CO2 (ok nucleation area may be a better term) or simply allows you to perceive it differently. Regardless the altered sensation is interesting.
Some taps allow some air in to water, making it a little bubbly, the idea being less water is used,
however its usually doesn't make the water milky colour which i think is from very tiny bubbles in the water and the air introduced somewhere else.
The ability did not "evolve." it was and has always been part of our genetic code.
With the addition of bubbles to the liquid, brings more surface area to the drink and then we experience a texture as well higher sense of flavor.
Spc_Cby UK, the taps that draw in air don't do so to reduce water consumption. The process is called aeration. It's primary purpose is to improve the taste of tap water by replacing oxygen lost in the delivery process.