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The Six Tastes (Rasa)


Ayurveda states that the taste of an herb is not incidental, but is an indication of its properties. Different tastes posses different effects. Rasa the Sanskrit word for essence in this case being the essence of the plant we ingest. Rasa also means  "Circulation", "To feel lively" "To dance" all of which is reflected in the energising power of taste.  In the western world we have the expression "Make your taste buds dance" theres is some truth in this expression in the Ayurvedic philosophy. Ayurveda puts a lot importance in the six tastes and it teaches us how each taste can help balance our body, mind and soul using the properties of each taste.

From this perspective you can gather how this concept in Ayurvedic cooking is key for balancing the doshas states. This basic concept can help you understand the cause and effect of your diet and lifestyle and gives you the key to balance it as the environment and yourself change from day to day.

In many ways the tastes are used in Ayurveda the way colours are used in painting. They can be used alone for one effect or mixed together to create another result.

The six taste as are as follows:

Sweet

Sour

Astringent

Bitter

Salty

Pungent

The sweet taste builds tissue. It has a calming effect in the mind and satisfaction, thus it calms the nerves. Grains, Starches, fruits and natural sugars are good source of the sweet taste. In the longterm it causes lethargy.

The sour taste has the elements of earth and fire. The heating quality of the sour taste promotes digestion. However it has a heating effect in the long run causing issues like ulcers, irritation and jealousy. Citrus, fermented food and yogurt are some examples.

The astringent taste has the elements of air and earth. It has a cooling effect on the digestion. Is light and drying in the quality that over time is more drying than cooling. It can slow down digestion and dry up the tissues. 

The bitter taste has the elements of Air and Ether. Is the coldest and lightest of all tastes and is fairly dry. In the short term use is good to decrease heaviness an excess salt in the body edema. In the long run is very chilling  and sense of disillusion and grief

The salty taste has the elements of fire and water because of its warming quality enhances digestion. In the long term it promotes water retention and mentally it promotes: rigidness, an urgency of repeated gratification of the senses and I'm always right attitude.

The pungent taste has the elements of air and fire is the hottest and most stimulating to digestion. Its effect is hot, dry and light through out its digestive process. In the short term it can enlivening and can get the body moving and warm it up. In the long run it causes aggressiveness and anger.


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