Astringency, a tactile sensation felt in the mouth after exposure to various foods, is poorly understood. Our objective was to investigate the mechanism of astringency by determining if it was related to a loss of saliva's ability to lubricate mouth surfaces. We used 2 complementary approaches: (1) instrumentally determining if astringents decrease salivary lubricity and (2) determining if human subjects could perceive these changes. Instrumentally measured friction of saliva-tannin mixtures was greater than that of saliva-water mixtures, but these differences were not detectable by human subjects. Adding alum or acid to saliva did not increase friction measured either instrumentally or by human subjects rubbing the mixture between their thumb and fingers. Thus a loss of salivary lubricity is likely not a central mechanism of astringency.