Umami, the flavour profile that comes from the Japanese word meaning ‘a pleasant savoury taste’, is the fifth category we can use to describe food taste.

Scientists have debated for a long time whether or not umami is actually a basic taste, but it was acknowledged as a flavour profile in 1985.  It describes the taste of glutamates and nucleotides.  Wikipedia states that “[a]lthough it can be described as a pleasant “brothy” or “meaty” taste with a long lasting, mouthwatering and coating sensation over the tongue, umami has no translation. Umami is umami in all major languages, including English, Spanish and French.”

Umami was first ‘discovered’ in 1908 by Professor Shintaro Kodama and was used to describe the flavours of seaweed, mushrooms and fish sauce.  It was found that umami had a “mild but lasting aftertaste difficult to describe.  It induces salivation and a sensation of furriness on the tongue, stimulating the throat, the roof and the back of the mouth. By itself, umami is not palatable, but it makes a great variety of foods pleasant especially in the presence of a matching aroma.”

Doesn’t sound as good as it tastes, does it?

Read more about Umami and the other flavour profiles at:


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