A Japanese discovery
There were long thought to be just four basic tastes: sweet, sour, salty and bitter. Then a scientist in Japan - Professor Kikunae Ikeda of Tokyo Imperial University (now the University of Tokyo) - noticed the presence of a taste that did not fit into any of these categories. Professor Ikeda discovered the main taste component in kombu dashi (broth or stock) to be glutamate, and dubbing it “umami,” penned an academic paper explaining the existence of umami as one of the basic tastes.
Following in Professor Ikeda’s footsteps, other Japanese scientists discovered the umami substances inosinate and guanylate.