Just learnt about umami? Take a seat because now you need to know about kokumi ...

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Image: What on earth is kokumi? The sixth taste, apparently

Via: Sainsbury's / Photo: Catherine Gratwicke / Sainsbury's

At some point this year, while you were staring into space on the bus or ordering a flat white, you acquired another taste. Well done you, good work.

 

Not so long ago in a simpler time, we were quite content rubbing along with tastes of sour, sweet, salty and bitter. It was all we knew until a fifth taste, umami, joined the party. But now even that's insufficient – kokumi is our sixth taste.

 

So five tastes have become six: here's what you need to know about kokumi.

 

It's a confection of the Japanese words for “rich” and “taste”, the supposed sixth taste has been mooted since the 1980s but has now gained momentum after a series of articles written by Dr Motonaka Kuroda were published in the scientific journal Flavour.

 

Here comes the tricky part: it is, apparently, as much a feeling as it is a taste and what that taste itself is, is on the murky side.

 

Garlic, onions and scallops are all said to possess it, though.

 

While the source of this taste is suspected to be a group of chemicals called (deep breath) gamma-glutamyl peptides, the search continues for the specific receptor cells on the tongue (or anywhere else for that matter) that detect the powers of kokumi.

 

Some have argued that this might just be another strand of umami, rather than a brand new taste sensation.

 

As ever, more research is needed and more is most certainly coming. We like nothing more than some light-hearted banter about food flavours – so let the boffins fight it out over our five or six tastes, leaving us tucking into our tasty lunches.