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Dining3/23/17
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Szechuan Buzz Buttons Taste Test

These curious-looking plants pack a punch

Szechuan buzz buttons can be deceiving: They're small, colorful and smell like grass. As one unknowing taste-tester stated off the bat, "It looks harmless." But don't let these little plants fool you, they pack quite a punch.

So what are buzz buttons anyway? In parts of the world, these plants have been used as a toothache remedy, thanks to their mouth-numbing tingle. The tiny yellow buds owe this effect to a concentration of the extract spilanthol. They've been popping up in the mainstream culinary and cocktail worlds, causing an, ahem, spark of interest in the exotic ingredient.

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Some describe the mouth-numbing feeling as similar to that of Pop Rocks candy, but the flavor is polarizing and different for almost everyone. Taste-tester reactions ranged anywhere from the panicked, hand-waving "Make it stop!" to the calmer "It reminds me of white wine," which was said while reaching for another.

Watch the video to see TT staffers' best reactions and learn more about these curious little flowers.