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Do You Know These Astringent Taste Examples?

Astringent.


This taste is a little less well-known.


Astringent is described as less of a taste and more of a feeling in the mouth


Have you ever eaten something (like pomegranate, green tea, or turmeric) and felt all of the moisture sucked out of your mouth?


That is astringent.


In Eat Taste Heal, Thomas Yarema describes it as a puckering of the mouth, like with cranberries or pomegranates, or a chalky, dry feeling, like with beans (Yarema, 49).


astringent taste examples:

Astringent substances dry.


Ayurveda tells us that all six tastes (sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent) are required in every meal to have balanced nutrition (Kripalu, 7.18).


We'll cover how taste affects digestion, some info about the six tastes of Ayurveda, how the astringent taste affects the doshas, the benefits and pitfalls of the astringent taste, examples of astringent tastes, and how to incorporate them into your life with some recipes.


You can jump ahead to the astringent taste examples, or keep reading to learn more.



How taste affects digestion


Robert Svoboda, in his book Prakriti: Your Ayurvedic Constitution, explains that the tongue's ability to taste determines what we can digest (Svoboda, Loc 487).


The taste stimulates the tongue to send the signal to the gut to prepare the proper enzymes to digest the food (Svoboda, Loc 487).


If this doesn't happen, it can result in a build-up of ama (toxins or undigested food particles that decay in the gut and pass out into the tissues as subpar nutrition).



6 tastes of Ayurveda


A balance of all 6 tastes is needed for good nutrition.


If all six tastes are provided in each meal, the body will receive perfect nutrition.


By incorporating all six tastes, there is no need to analyze meals by the proportion of carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, and minerals, because the six tastes will naturally supply all of these.


The quantity of each taste needed will vary from person to person, depending on their particular constitution, time of life, time of year, and time of day.


The sweet, sour, and salty tastes are building and will rejuvenate the tissues of the body, while the bitter, pungent, and astringent tastes are reducing and will deplete the tissues of the body.


In general, everyone needs a bit more of the sweet taste (remember that in Ayurveda the sweet taste is not just sugar, it includes grains, dairy, meat, eggs, oils, sweet veggies, and sweet fruits).


Foods with bitter, pungent, and astringent tastes can be enjoyed in smaller quantities unless there is an imbalance requiring a bit more of these three tastes.


astringent taste examples: fresh okra in a basket

More about the 6 tastes of Ayurveda


Ayurveda tells us that there are six tastes (AH, SÅ« 1/14)

• sweet

• sour

• salty

• pungent

• bitter

• astringent


Each of the six tastes is composed of a predominance of two elements (space, air, fire, water, earth) (CS, SÅ« 26/40)

• sweet is composed of earth and water

• sour is composed of fire and earth

• salty is composed of water and fire

• pungent is composed of fire and air

• bitter is composed of ether (space) and air

• astringent is composed of earth and air


Read 6 Tastes of Ayurveda: A Key to Finding Balance to learn more about the six tastes.


You may find that a specific food is predominant in just one of these tastes, but many foods are composed of a blend of tastes.


For example, amla (a gooseberry fruit that is used medicinally) is considered to have five of the six tastes: sour, bitter, astringent, sweet, and pungent.


Garlic is another example of a food with five of the six tastes: pungent, sour, bitter, astringent, and sweet (Yarema, 46).


Even though garlic and amla have the same five tastes, they taste very different.


This difference comes from the different proportions of each taste in these two substances.


How the astringent taste affects the doshas


Astringent taste increases vata dosha (sends it out of balance), and pacifies pitta and kapha doshas (brings them back into balance).


Astringent is heavy, cold, and dry making it perfect for pitta dosha.


The intense dry quality, in addition to the pungent post-digestive effect which offsets the cold quality, makes it beneficial for kapha dosha as well.


Too much astringent taste can send vata dosha out of balance because of its cold and dry qualities.



astringent taste examples: popped lotus seeds in a bowl

Benefits of astringent taste


Robert Svoboda, in his book Prakriti: Your Ayurvedic Consitution, tells us the astringent taste (Svoboda, Loc 487):

  • heals wounds

  • constricts all parts of the body

  • purifies the tissues

  • decreases excess sexual desires

  • reduces secretions


In his book Textbook of Ayurveda: Principles of Practice, Dr Lad also includes these other benefits (Lad, 248):

  • binds the stool

  • enhances absorption of nutrients in the GI tract

  • reduces inflammation

  • relieves congestion

  • heals ulcers

  • scrapes fat

  • promotes clotting of wounds

  • constricts blood vessels

Pole explains the astringent taste has these additional benefits (Pole, 66):

  • reduces bleeding

  • alleviates excess sweating

  • decreases involuntary urination

  • relieves diarrhea

  • clears the build-up of mucus in the nose and throat

  • dries leukorrhea (excess vaginal discharge between periods)

  • alleviates premature ejaculation

  • prevents the accumulation of loose and flaccid tissue

  • treats prolapse of organs




astringent taste examples: slices of an assortment of dried fruit on a white background


Effects of excessive astringent taste


According to Dr. Lad, some of the effects of excessive astringent taste include (Lad, 249):

  • constipation

  • spasm of the intestines

  • aggravating blood clots

  • dryness of mouth

  • speech difficulty

  • distention

  • stagnation of circulation

  • cardiac spasm

  • choking

  • sperm depletion

  • libido reduction

  • convulsions

  • emaciation

  • stroke, Bell's palsy, and other neuromuscular vata disorders


Svoboda also includes (Svoboda, 544):

  • dryness of the body

  • tingling

  • numbness

  • emaciation

  • thirst


Pole continues this list with (Pole, 67):

  • may reduce digestive strength due to the heavy, cold nature

  • rigidity

  • convulsions

  • retention of gas, urine, and stool

  • pain in the heart



Psychological effects of excess astringent


Dr. Lad tells us that the astringent taste is both grounding and supportive (Lad, 249).


Benefits of the astringent taste to the mind (Lad, 249):

  • organizes the mind

  • collects the thoughts in the mind


But excess astringent taste can create problems like (Lad, 249):

  • scattered mind

  • disorganization

  • nervousness

  • insomnia

  • fixation

  • fear

  • rigidity

  • anxiety

  • emotional stagnation

  • harshness

  • depression (holding onto emotions)




astringent taste examples: heads of broccoli

Examples of astringent tastes in Ayurveda


Dr. Vasant Lad lists the following substances as containing the astringent taste (Lad, 247):

  • pomegranate

  • most raw vegetables

  • unripe banana

  • green beans

  • chickpeas

  • yellow split peas

  • okra

  • peas

  • turmeric

  • lotus seeds

  • goldenseal

  • alfalfa sprouts

  • mango seed

  • alum

  • arjuna

Other substances with the astringent taste (Yarema, 49):

  • cranberries

  • pears

  • apples

  • all legumes (beans and lentils)

  • dried fruits

  • asparagus

  • turnips

  • broccoli

  • artichoke

  • cauliflower

  • quinoa

  • buckwheat

  • rye

  • marjoram

  • turmeric

  • coffee (although not great for pitta due to the acidity)

  • tea (although not great for pitta due to the acidity)

  • green tea



How to include the astringent taste in your life


Having some astringent taste in every meal is important because it helps with the absorption of foods.


One way to include the astringent taste into your life is by cooking meals with the astringent foods listed above, like asparagus, pomegranate, apple, cauliflower, beans, quinoa, etc.


Or you can enhance a recipe by adding the astringent taste, for example, you could add some dried fruits (or another astringent item) as the dish is cooking.


Alternatively, you could include the astringent taste in your life by using spices like turmeric and marjoram.


Alfalfa sprouts, mango seeds, and lotus seeds can be served along with a meal as a condiment or added as an ingredient to add the astringent taste.



Recipes including the astringent taste


Here are some recipes that include the astringent taste.


Click the image to view the recipe on my website.


This Takra recipe transforms plain, non-homogenized yogurt from sour to astringent making it light and excellent for digestion.



astringent taste examples: takra recipe with two clay cups filled with takra


 

Lavender Rose Tea is naturally astringent (plus it packs quite a few of the other tastes!).


astringent taste examples: recipe for lavender rose tea with sprigs of lavender

 

Both the quinoa and the red lentils add the astringent taste to this recipe.


astringent taste examples: red lentil and quinoa kitchari with greens in a white bowl with a half of a lemon

Apples are an astringent fruit that are delicious stewed. Pears could also be used instead.


astringent taste examples: recipe for stewed apples with dewey, fresh apples

 

Here's another quinoa dish.


astringent taste examples: recipe for quinoa with sweet potatoes, beets and beet greens in a white bowl


 

Hibiscus Mint Tea offers astringency to provide cooling in the summer.


astringent taste examples: hibiscus mint tea recipe, dried red hibiscus petals


 

Cilantro offers the astringent taste. This Fresh Cilantro Sauce is delicious as a condiment to many meals.


astringent taste examples: recipe for cilantro sauce in a jar

 

Legumes, including lentils, offer the astringent taste.


astringent taste examples: recipe for french lentil dal, uncooked french lentils in a bowl

Astringent Taste Examples


Ayurveda tells us that adding astringent foods to every meal is so beneficial.


It's important to find the right quantity for each individual depending on the constitution, current state of balance, time of life, time of year, and time of day.


If you would like help figuring out the right quantity for you, you may want to seek out an Ayurvedic Practitioner to help you.







 

Lad, Vasant M.A.Sc. Textbook of Ayurveda: Principles of Practice. 1st ed., vol. 1, The Ayurvedic Press, 2012.


Vagbhata. Astanga Hrdayam. Translated by Prof. K. R. Srikantha Murthy, 7th ed., vol. 1, Chowkhamba Krishnadas Academy, 2010.


Pole, Sebastian. Ayurvedic Medicine: The Principles of Traditional Practice. 2nd ed., Singing Dragon, 2013.


Svoboda, Robert. "Chapter 3 - Food." Prakriti: Your Ayurvedic Constitution. Kindle. Sadhana Publications, 1998.


Yarema, Thomas R. Eat Taste Heal: An Ayurvedic Cookbook for Modern Living. 1st ed., 5 Elements Press, 2006.


Dubey S.D., Singh A.N., Singh A., Deole Y. S.. "Atreyabhadrakapyiya Adhyaya". Charak Samhita New Edition, edited by Sirdeshpande M.K., Deole Y.S., Basisht G., eds., 1st edition, CSRTSDC, 2020, pp. 28, Doi:10.47468/CSNE.2020.e01.s01.028

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