Umami: The Fifth Sensation of Taste

Umami: The Fifth Sensation of Taste

Posted by Yukiko Kisaki on 30th May 2016

ripe tomatoes, grilled salmon, aged cheese and baked mushrooms

Ripe tomatoes, grilled salmon, aged cheese, baked mushrooms: What do these foods have in common?

They all taste delicious — no matter how they range in the four basic tastes of sweet, bitter, sour, or salty.

The Fifth Taste

Umami is the fifth taste sensations we all have and commonly describe as savory, mouth-filling, satisfying — or just simply delicious.

The Japanese word umami (うま味) is a combination of two words: umai means delicious or excellent; mi means taste.

In Japan, how food tastes is commonly described by how much umami it does or does not have.

The sensation of umami "tastiness" comes from amino acids found in all savory foods called glutamates. Our tongue has specialized receptors which sense these glutamates and signal the brain.

Lasting Sensation of Delicious Foods

Recent findings show that, just like our tongue, the stomach also contains glutamate taste receptors.

Stomach's taste receptors continue to detect the glutamates in savory foods we eat, causing a lasting feeling of satisfaction long after eating a tasty meal.