Umami is often defined as savory (savoury), or sabroso in Spanish. For many people umami has a mouth watering effect and creates a tantalizing sensation all over the tongue: it has also been described as “deliciousness”. The umami taste is common in fermented foods, aged cheeses, meat, ketchup/tomatoes, mushrooms, boullion/broth, soy sauce, MSG, and breast milk. Specifically, umami is the taste of L-glutamate, the dominant amino acid in living things: it is released through death, rotting, fermentation, and cooking.
In order for people to sense a substance through taste or smell, it must be present in sufficient concentrations. Individual sensitivity will vary for everyone, and there is no limit to personal preferences.
Absolute Threshold is the smallest concentration of a substance that can be detected by our senses; like one puff of smoke in a room may be the minimum amount for someone to detect the tobacco aroma.
Terminal Threshold is the extreme point of saturation where the addition of more stimulus will not yield any more sensation; like ten people smoking cigars in a room where the eleventh cigar will not change what you smell.
Somewhere between these two extremes lies a pleasurable experience. At the recognition threshold we are able to sense specific tastes and smells. At the differentiation threshold we can sense gradients in the tastes and smells; lighter to heavier, milder to stronger, etc…
The most important thing to remember is that sensory thresholds are different for everybody. So a tobacco that is too mild for some can be perfect for another.
One man’s spice
is another man’s fire.
Cigar makers use the word sabroso to describe the perfect balance of saltiness, bitterness, sourness, and sweetness in tobacco: that synergistic balance creates a sensation that transcends the potential of each individual taste, and creates something more extraordinary and complete: that is umami.