Difference Between Bitter and Sour

Main Difference – Bitter vs Sour 

Taste is the sensation we feel when a substance in the mouth reacts chemically with taste receptor cells located on taste buds. Our mouth can basically perceive five senses; they are sweetness, saltiness, sourness, bitterness and savoriness. In this article, we are talking in detail about bitterness and sourness. Bitter is perhaps the most sensitive of all the tastes. Many consider bitter as an unpleasant and disagreeable taste. Sourness is an indicator of acidity. The main difference between bitter and sour is that bitter is a sharp and pungent taste whereas sour is an acidic taste.

What is Bitter

Bitterness is often perceived by many people as an unpleasant or disagreeable taste. It is the most sensitive of the five basic tastes. Food that have earthy flavors like green leaves, bitter gourd, coffee, tea, unsweetened cocoa, citrus peel, olive, etc. taste bitter. Ethanol in alcoholic beverages also tastes bitter.

A large number of natural toxic substances are also known to be bitter. This is perhaps one of the reasons why we always associate bitterness with unpleasantness. However, sometimes bitterness is seen as favorable and this taste is intentionally added via bittering agents.

Food that emit a bitter taste often has many health benefits such as detoxifying the body, helping weight reduction and providing antibiotic, antiseptic and anti-parasitic qualities.

Main Difference - Bitter vs Sour

What is Sour

Sour is a taste that is often associated with acidity. The sour taste is usually generated by food that are rich in acids. Citrus fruits such as lemons, lime, oranges, grapes, tamarind, etc. have a sour taste. Some products also produce a sour taste when they are getting spoilt. For example, wine produces a sour taste if it’s not stored correctly and milk produces a sour taste when it is spoilt.

The sourness is created by hydrogen atoms or ions in food. When there are more ions in food, the sourness increases. Although some people do not like sourness, it has many health benefits. They can increase the body’s ability to absorb minerals and cleanses tissues in the body. Food that produce sour taste also helps digestion and circulation.Difference Between Bitter and Sour

Difference Between Bitter and Sour 


Bitter is a sharp, pungent taste.

Sour is an acidic taste.


Bitter food include coffee, bitter gourd, olive, citrus peel, etc.

Sour food include fruits like lime, lemon, orange, grape, etc.


Bitter is often considered to be an unpleasant taste.

Sour is not considered to be an unpleasant taste.

Health Benefits

Bitter tasting food can detoxify the body, help weight reduction and provide antibiotic, antiseptic and anti-parasitic qualities.

Sour tasting food can increase the body’s ability to absorb minerals, cleanse tissues in the body and help digestion and circulation.Difference Between Bitter and Sour -infographic

Image Courtesy:

“Bitter Gourd” by Sengai Podhuvan – Own work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia 

“Lemons” by Evan-Amos – Own work, (CC0) via Commons Wikimedia 

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