Here at Brainscape, we're interested in all the ways you can boost learning, including eating the foods that improve your brain health and understanding how these brain foods help you study better.

We also ran across this one berry that affects your perceptions in ways that were even more interesting ... and we wanted to share it with you.

What is flavor tripping?

There's a centuries-old concept called “flavor tripping”—consuming a miracle fruit that temporarily makes sour and bitter foods like lemons, grapefruits, and vinegar taste amazingly delicious. (It's literally called that: "miracle fruit". It's latin name is Synsepalum dulcificum.)

Despite the term "tripping" usually applied to this sensation, these miracle berries are incidentally not a drug at all, but are rather perfectly legal fruit that leave a flavor-distorting effect behind on our taste buds.

A quick search of the many (disorganized) online resources about these miracle fruits revealed nothing but positive experiences from the increasing number of Westerners who had tried them. But there wasn't much information, either.

So, having become both curious about these berries and frustrated about the lack of a comprehensive online information hub, my wife and I did what any self-respecting psychology geeks would do: bought several dozen of these miracle fruit berries and hosted a tasting party of our own!

Below is the consensus among the 25 attendees’ experiences of "flavor tripping".

What's the experience of flavor tripping?

The "magical" berries

Considering that we unfortunately couldn’t just buy fresh miracle fruit berries from our local farmers market, we ended up buying our miracle fruit “berries” in the form of condensed tablets (you can do a search for "mBerry" or "miracle berry" tablets).

Most attendees only really needed one such tablet to get the full sweetness effect, and some were even able to get some effect from just taking a half tablet. You can't really "overdose".

The trick is to make sure you coat your entire mouth and tongue with the tablet while it dissolves, so that you don’t experience sour “zingers” on taste buds that were left untreated.  It is also important avoid drinking too much liquid while sampling the foods since the active ingredient might get washed off your tongue.

Think of it like brushing your teeth and having orange juice taste different for awhile; the difference is that this berry’s oral residue makes things taste better instead of bitter.

The flavor-distorting effect lasted between 15-30 minutes for most of us. Not a single person out of the 25 attendees at our party had any negative side effects.

The “trippiest” foods to try

If you are planning a flavor tripping shopping list of your own, the most important foods to buy are the ones that are normally very sour or acidic. The following were particularly mind-blowing:

  • Lemons & Limes
  • Grapefruits
  • Vinegar (seriously! all types will work)
  • Salt & Vinegar Chips (taste sweet! WTF)
  • Golden berries

Sort-of trippy foods

Many foods were either not as altered as we expected they would be, or they were only altered for some people but not all. But they still might be worth buying for your own party, just for variety and juxtaposition:

  • Green apples
  • Goat cheese
  • Kiwi
  • Un-ripened strawberries
  • Cherry tomatoes (especially with balsamic vinegar!)
  • Guinness (tastes like iced coffee)
  • Sour dill pickles
  • Cranberries
  • Tabasco sauce (still spicy, but sweet!)

Disappointing foods

Some blog posts had mentioned trying the foods below while flavor tripping. But honestly, all 25 of us agreed that they didn’t really taste any different at all:

  • Blue cheese
  • Olives
  • Regular dill pickles
  • Carrots
  • Kimchi
  • Grapes
  • Ginger
  • Dark chocolate

It was an experience to remember, and a safe one at that, since miracle fruit berries are not a drug. Learning about a new phenomenon isn't always about diving head first into the books. Sometimes, it's about experiencing new things, finding what you like and dislike, and what works and what doesn't.

If you're interesting in boosting your brain health in general, check out Brainscape's full guide to optimizing your brain health for effective studying.]