What Is Sharp Heat?

(Image credit: Christine Gallary)

Bite into a chile pepper and you may simply think it’s hot or not, but according to scientists, that heat is more specific than you might think. The spice of every kind of chile peppers is measured using the Scoville scale, which assigns a number to the pepper depending on how pungent it is. One factor to determine this number is whether the heat the pepper produces is sharp or flat. What the heck does “sharp heat” mean?

A Chile Pepper’s Sharp Heat, Defined

If you bite into a hot chile pepper or taste anything with that pepper in it, your mouth does a little dance. Sharp heat feels like pins and needles on your tongue, but then vanishes quickly. This type of spice is common in Asian chile varieties, like Thai bird’s eye chiles and Indian ghost peppers.

Read More: What Is Flat Heat?

3 Recipes That Use Chile Peppers with Sharp Heat