We are taught as children that there are four basic tastes: salty, sour, and sweet. This is represented by a map on the tongue, which we may have already memorized when we were younger.
Experts have disproved that certain parts of our tongue detect a particular taste. We have five senses of flavor! Namely, salty, sweet, bitter, and UMAMI.
Most likely, you have seen a YouTube video or read articles about food and come across umami. You may have wondered what umami is. What is Asian food? Seafood? What is the best kind of beef?
It is indeed a great thing. You’ve likely tasted umami. Umami is a flavor that you get when you eat.
First, I’ll explain what umami is. Then I’ll discuss how it relates to Tea. Continue reading to find out more about umami.
WHAT IS UMAMI?
Umami (oo* *mee), umaWei, is a Japanese term first used in the 1900s. It refers to “rich flavor,” an “indescribable flavor,” “delicious,” and “pleasant and delicious taste.”
When Ikeda was eating seaweed soup (dashi), he couldn’t describe the taste and sensation in his mouth.
THE UMAMI & GLUTAMATE CONNECTION
Glutamate, a type of amino acid, is found in many foods, including dairy products, meats, fish, and vegetables. Natural glutamate is broken down as you cook these foods. This turns into L-glutamate, which gives food its flavor and texture.
It also gives cooked meats, vegetables, and fish a rich and complex flavor that makes them more enjoyable. Monosodium glucose, or MSG, is what it was born.
IS MSG EQUATE to UMAMI?
The most common amino acid in the body, sodium, a salt of glutamate, has different tastes and characteristics. MSG can be compared to umami because it is added to any dish and will instantly make it more flavorful.
Umami is a little more subtle, however, because it happens naturally. Like salt, which is readily available all around the world. There are naturally occurring sweeteners like honey and sugarcane. Many sweet and sour ingredients can be found in fruits and vegetables. This perfectly balances any dish and complements its flavor.
UMAMI-FILLED FOOD: EVERYBODY’S GUILTY PLEASURE
Many foods and cuisines from around the globe contain umami. Some foods are more umami-rich than others, such as cheeses, tomatoes, meat, eggs, seafood, green Teas, and mushrooms.
For those who want an umami-filled dining experience, savory burgers, pizzas, and tacos, tacos and matcha latte teas are a crowd favorite.
UMAMI AND TEA DRINK
Green Tea is naturally high in glutamate. This is why it’s so beloved for its rich, savory taste that everyone loves.
Green Tea is well-known for its health benefits. But let’s dig deeper to discover why green Tea is so addictive. Is it the astringency? It’s bitter but rich in flavor? Its sweetness? It’s most likely a mixture of all three!
And everyone seems not to get satiated by green Tea or matcha since it strikes a perfect balance of sweetness, bitterness, astringency, and UMAMI.
There are many levels of umami.
- Gyokuro and Hojicha have the highest levels of glutamate in all green tea varieties. They contain a staggering 2500mg each! This explains the high level of umami. To learn more about your and hojicha, please click this link.
- Sencha, on the other side, offers the sweetness some people crave. Although it may seem mild to some, it will be an excellent starting point for those who are just beginning to learn about green Tea. (Note: Kyokuro is considered sencha but has higher glutamate).
INTERESTING UMAMI FACTS
Here are some fascinating facts about umami-centric foods and beverages.
Umami and Human Evolution
As the theory of evolution suggests, our love for umami changes with our dining experiences. You can find sweet and savory foods, but you also love bitter foods.
We all know we must season our food according to our taste buds. Did you know that cooking meats, seafood, and vegetables begin to break down glutamate, which then turns into L-glutamate, which makes everything more delicious? This applies to both the ripening of fruits and vegetables, as well as the aging of cheese.
Umami and Breast Milk
Did you know umami is the first thing babies who are breastfed taste? Breast milk is rich in amino acids, which help boost a baby’s immune system. It contains high levels of umami.
It’s there! Umami is more complex than people think. This magical fifth taste can be found in almost all foods we eat, making everything better.