The fruit known as the 'yangmei' (Myrica rubra) has been cultivated for more than 2,000 years throughout China. This fruit goes by many names, including bayberry, waxberry, yamamomo, Chinese strawberry, arbutus, strawberry tree fruit, and more recently yumberry.
Each fruit is the size of a large cherry and has a bumpy exterior composed of many tiny stalks of flesh that attach to a single fuzzy seed at its center. These tiny stalks impart a unique texture that is firm and chewy, but they also provide hiding places for small pests and trapped dirt. In China, people typically soak the fruit in salt water before eating in order to draw out anything objectionable.
The flavor of yangmei is similar to strawberry and raspberry, but slightly more tart and with an herbal taste to it. Vendors often sell them in different stages of ripeness depending on what the buyer wants. Fruits with a deep, dark red color are sweeter and best eaten fresh. Bright red fruits tend to be sour and are more commonly used in cooking.
Due to the fruit’s unfortunate ability to harbor pests, it is almost impossible to find fresh yangmei outside Asia, but packaged products containing the fruit can be found in the United States and Europe. According to atlasobscura.com, in the early 2000s, juices and powders made from the fruit were marketed under the name “yumberry” as another contender in the superfruit craze.