Yangmei Season… (waxberry)


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Yang Mei, also called waxberry or China Bayberry, is the waxy fruit of the wax myrtle tree. They have been collected for thousands of years in China and used medicinally from the ancient time.

Yang Mei is a healthy fruit, high in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, including vitamin C, thiamine, riboflavin and carotene. If antioxidants had a “super hero,” it would be OPCs (Oligomeric Proantho Cyanidins), the major constituent of Yang Mei’s health benefits. OPCs are the most powerful class of free-radical-scavenging antioxidants believed to support every metabolic system in the body. Twenty times more powerful than Vitamin C and 50 times more potent than Vitamin E, Yang Mei’s OPCs have also been shown to boost the immune system, lower blood pressure, help lower LDL cholesterol levels and increase strength and elasticity of blood vessels while slowing down the collapse of collagen, keeping skin firm, smooth and wrinkle free.

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Exclusively coming from Zhejiang Province (where I am)

It is Yangmei Season again.. yes.. everywhere you look in my little town there are little blue baskets filled with this tasty little fruit.  They are also used in every other thing you could possibly think of… from Ice creams, juices to pies , and wine.  (yes, they do have Yangmei wine)

The history of the yang mei in my province comes from as far back as 5000 bc, during the Han Dynasty.   A unique fruit from only this southern region to the Yangtze River, adapting Yangmei to medication was firstly seen in Shi Liao Ben Cao, an herbal medicine book written by Meng Xian in Tang Dynasty.

Yangmei is able to  stop vomiting, helpful to digestion and alcoholic drinking , quench thirst, cleanse stomach and intestines, and be efficacious to cure diarrhea”.

I have to say that the cleansing of the stomach and intestines is a fact.  When I first came to China and experienced yangmei season, I was excited and thrill to be able to taste this amazing fruit.  This would be my first time tasting this kind of fruit, which I had never seen before in my life.

Unfortunately, I did not know that this would also be my last time tasting the fruit.  Let me explain.

One afternoon, one of my co-workers brought in a blue basket of these juicy fruits.  They quickly told me the history and how famous this fruit was in our fair city and Province.  I took one and the taste was a cross between a raspberry and a strawberry.  Quite unlike anything I had ever tasted before.  I was very tasty.  So, I grabbed about 4 more.  I carefully spit the seed that was in the middle into the garbage can and begin to work on my lesson plan for the next hour.

After sitting and typing for about 30 minutes or so, I felt a bubbling in my stomach.. I tried to ignore it.. since I figured it was just a little gas.. However, after about five more minute the bubbling became more of a storm .. in my stomach… I needed to get to the restroom and fast… (my stomach was meaning business)… As a side note, I usually tried never to use the bathroom at school.  Due to the fact that all public restrooms in my town were basically a squatty potty… meaning it was a big hole in the floor… and you had to squat over it… But.. this day I had no choice… I needed to get into that stall.. quick and not waste any time trying to balance and not fall over when I was in position. (which, by the way, I am not sure that I use the correct position since no one really showed me.. and I usually just pray .. that I don”t get my pants wet)

After, about 30 minutes in the restroom.. I told myself.. I need to teach this class so I really have to get out of here.. so I tried to pull myself together enough to go in and complete my last class of the evening.

I was able to do it… one hour of teaching the class sitting down.. and squeezing my cheeks together.  (really wasnt pretty I am sure)… finally, the class was over.. and I raced back to the bathroom.  After, about 30 more minutes I came out.  My co-workers has a concerned look on their face, are you okay.. they asked me.. I told them.. I am thinking that the yangmei are not good for my stomach.   They then told me.. ohh.. yeah.. they are supposed to do that.. they clean your system.. I said.. NOW YOU TELL ME!... that evening I told my husband what happened.. and as he was giggling and shaking … having some sort of spasms… he gave me some Chinese medicine to stop up the issue.

The next morning…  when I went to school…  I informed them that I would not be eating this fruit again.  They agreed and thought that would be best.

I went to my first class that happened to be a little boy around 11 years old.  Bright eyed and rosy-cheeked.. he came to class hiding something behind his back… He smiled big..and said… Teacher Jo.. I have a gift for you… I said really?  .. then he brought his hands from behind his back… and gave me a blue basket of yangmei... ohhhhhh... I said.. trying to smile… thank you so much... he said.. it is very famous try one… I looked at his cute little face and said… umm.. I will later, I just ate breakfast... he was like okay, okay… then we continued on with the class… I carried the fruit to my desk .. to take home to my husband, as the other teachers giggled softly to themselves.

Later that night while my husband was eating the fruit like they were the last food on earth… and I didn’t see him once go to the bathroom.  I just shook my head..and thought.. why me?.

The next morning… I went to school… and as soon as I came into the office I was called into my boss’s office.. great.. what now…maybe he wanted to yell at me about the smell .. I left in the restroom a couple of days before. (I didn’t have a match or anything)

As I walked in .. he told me to sit down in front of his desk.  I did and then he put a very large blue basket… (biggest one I had ever seen) in front of me.. filled to the brim with yangmei…. I swallowed loudly and said.. ohhh… thannk yoouu.. soo.. much… trying to sound thrilled.  He was smiling very widely and telling me how famous this fruit was.. and that I would love eating them.  I agreed then left his office with both hands carrying my large blue basket… which by the way I was beginning to hate looking at… what was with these people and this damn fruit.

When I got home.. my husband was .. laughing so hard .. he was crying and saying .. Welcome to China(the smartass.. just has all kinds of jokes).. and began to eat them… This blue basket showed up on my desk several more times that week… until my home was filled with yangmei fruit… with my husband as happy as a child at Christmas, throwing them down his throat.

At this time.. I had met an American black guy that played the sax at the local 5 star hotel… he called us over stating that he had a gift for us… as we were preparing to go.. I told my husband Michael .. that I hope it wasn’t a blue basket.. he just giggled, rolled his eyes.. and told me to hurry up.

We go there.. and my American friend.. was talking to some others.. he was complaining about going to the bathroom .. all night… I said.. oh.. are you sick…?  He said… YEAH.. SICK OF THOSE DAMN YANGMEI FRUIT… we all started laughing .. and I shared my experiences with him… he understood my pain…

He then had one of the waiters bring over a gift that was wrapped in a box.  This box was way too small to contain the blue yangmei basket… I was relieved to see.

When I opened the box… I pulled out a bottle… and Inside I saw…. White Rice wine.. with a bunch of yangmei in the bottom of the bottle, that was turning the wine a pink color… Yangmei Wine…. when I saw it .. All I could do was laugh… priceless... I gave the wine to my husband… .. he just sat there with a very big smile on his face… (I had yet to see him go to the bathroom.. and with as many berries he had eaten he should have been living in there…it just wasn’t fair)

That year I got a total of 9 baskets of yangmei and 2 bottles of yangmei wine… all of which my husband ate and drank.

Now .. the Yangmei Season is upon us again… and the first basket of yangmei has shown up… I told my student… thank you so much .. but I have to decline… his face so sad.. looked and me and said whyyyy…???  it is very delicious…. ?

I told him… I know.. but.. if I eat those… I will have to teach your class from the bathroom stall….. he got the visual.. loud and clear… and  said.. ahhh..okay, okay…..I know.

Bathroom fruit Season (what I now call it)  lasts only about 1 or 2 months… so soon they will be gone… however… after that.. is time for the next fruit that come into season….. grapes… yep… grape season in Zhejiang Province… now that is a fruit season I can handle….bring it on.. Yuyao…

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until next time…

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30 thoughts on “Yangmei Season… (waxberry)

  1. millaz

    Im so sorry about ur experiences.as a chinese…most of us dont really have any problems after eating them LOL.and the worms inside the berries are fruitworm.its harmless tho.but of course needed to be soaked before searving

  2. Pingback: 10 Exotic Fruits Found in Asia

  3. I have search the word “yangmei” on google and found your blog. Thank you for the sharing. It’s very useful information and I will be more carefully not taking many of them because I don’t want it’s also become my toilet fruit 😉

    PS. I will visit China next month. Hope it’s be the right time of its season.

  4. Rebecca

    OMG — too funny!! I live in Shanghai and just loooove yang mei, but never knew they could produce “cleansing”. Thanks for the warning — I’ll go easy on ’em. Wouldn’t want the same experience in MY English class (I volunteer at a migrant school and the bathrooms are open trenches — no privacy, no flush).

  5. OMG, you REALLY made my day. I so needed to just laugh. I was looking for where I could get this fruit in the San Francisco (with no luck) and stumbled onto your blog. I tried the fruit for the very first time in Shanghai this summer and fell in love with them. And like your husband, I could eat a lot of them without any discomfort. God knows, I’ve had my share of experiences like yours traveling to different countries. At least you can write about it and make people laugh…

    (Btw, I’ve never replied to a blog before) so Thank you!

    1. Thank you so much for reading my blog.. and I feel honored to be the one to pop your blog posting cherry…. (or should I say waxberry…..) I hope you can find the fruit. Some of my readers have mention finding it in healthfood stores and in juice form. Happy hunting.

  6. pearls

    Just received the powdered form of the yangmei fruit yesterday. It took a while (after more research) because I wanted to get it from a reputable company…if you know what I mean! Not from Lizzy who sits on a crate by the side of the road, selling it from a bag or from a p.o. box number that will not exist after formal complaints have been filed! LOL! I’ll let you know if it was worth the purchase!

  7. Randy

    While you’re running from that fruit I would love some. I’ve been so bad this week I could really use a good cleanse!

    I wish they had things like that in the states. I feel so robbed by all these greedy people and there of this land! It sucks.

  8. pearls

    @Browncow and to other lbtw viewers who like me are
    budget minded. The organic purveyors have discount coupons that can be found online (with reasonable expiration
    dates) that you can either print out and use at a store or order online using a discount code or by phone via customer service state the discount code. I’ve used them a few times when purchasing organic products online with no problem.
    Some purveyors have it where you can provide your email address directly on their site, and they’ll notify you whenever they’re discounting their organic items. Businesses are more than willing to work with us; especially in these economic times. All we have to do is ask and the only thing they can say is no! And with that, I just say….next! Somebody will get me the discount I desire! Peace!

  9. pearls

    Here (in the states) the yang mei berry is called the yum berry. It’s only been on the scene for 2 years and has not been embraced completely by the organic purveyors so far at this time. I read the reviews of one company that sold the juice and one person said it tasted like tomato juice, so that one was a red flag for me. So far, I’ve found some possible hopefuls on Amazon, as well as, looking into a company located in Canada with a branch office in California. The minimal the process the better!

    @Browncow. Hopefully, if you see this, the best thing to do for your present condition is to consume plenty of organic fresh fruit or organic prune juice from either the R. W. Knudsen family or Lakewood companies which are excellent organic juice sources. Both companies are online and list nutrition facts e.g. sugar, fiber, sodium, and potassium contents of each juice product.

    1. Browncow

      Thanks for the suggestion. I think I’ll get some prune juice even though things moved right along after eating a lot of plums. I’m going to eat one right now. Now that I’m thinking about it. I can find that juice at the Roots market up the road from me. I haven’t been there in a couple of months. I only go for certain items since it’s an expensive place to shop. Not quite Whole Foods, but close enough in price.

  10. Jules

    Never seen the yangmei, they look so pretty though. I just envy you that you have all the fresh juicy lychees over there. By the time they get here they are rotten or were picked so green they are sour.

    1. @Jules..they are very beautiful fruit.. that is how they trick you into eating them… (smile)… ohh.. do not get me started on lychees.. that season is just ending.. i have been eating those for weeks now.. I love those things.. one good thing about China… you can always get fresh fruit in season.

  11. Browncow

    I so could have used a basket of yangmei today. I’m pregnant and prone to constipation. Today was the worst. So all that talk about the magical poo fruit was making me jealous. They look so yummy though. I’d probably eat about a dozen of them before I realized you have to have grown up on them to be immune to the effects.

    Anyways, I’m really enjoying your blog. It’s providing my husband and I with lots of wonderful social commentary and an interesting view into Chinese culture that I’ve never had.

    1. Thank you so much … you might be able to find the Juice in a Chinese market or something over there.. I think Pearls has found it .. in Shy-town. It will be a natural and delicious way to help your… situation. I am so happy to hear that your husband and You enjoy my blog. It just gives me more.. .fire to write more and share more of my experiences here. I am sure there will be more and more… everyday there is something new in this place…Thanks again.. and double happiness to you both

  12. Trina

    This is absolutely hilarious, and I so feel for you! I also have numerous bathroom-/food-related anecdotes, but I don’t think any of them top this one! I would love to try those berries, but thanks to you I know to eat no more than one (unless I was seriously considering a purge to start a fast).

    I still don’t understand how your husband can eat them by the basketful, though. 😉

    1. I think he has been eatting them for so many years.. that his body has purged out everything…he is no bigger than a minute. 100 pounds… and only 5’5… but… his body is tight and carries around his little six pack….with all the bike riding and running he does.. I would eat them.. and start purging.. but i would never be able to teach a class… i would just have to spend a good couple of days in the bathroom.

  13. pearls

    Thanks for the heads up! Since I periodically cleanse and
    rebuild anyway, I’m accustomed to it and adjust my schedule accordingly! I’m hoping it will have the same effect as the
    fruit. It’s not that I’m a glutton for punishment. It’s just that
    once certain products reach these shores (here) it doesn’t
    lend the same response as in the originating country which is
    a bummer!

    1. Yeah.. i would try to send you some.. but .. unless I over night them…they would be bad by the time I got them there. There are no preservatives added to food in China.. so it doesnt keep for more than a day or two. (which can be a pain.. when you have to go to the store every day). I hope you can get a feel of the taste anyway.**

  14. pearls

    The yang mei berries in the photo are so pretty! I’ve already
    done my research and found where I can get the juice over
    here. I welcome the Vitamin C boost! Well, I can see one
    reason why they stay so healthy and lean over there. The
    fruit is a natural detox to their entire system. The fruit
    naturally cleanses the body internally. Wow! Excellent health benefits!

    1. @pearls.. they do taste good.. just be ready.. stay close to the bathroom until you get use to them. I hear that is why my husband isn’t.. having any issues.. he has eaten them every year for like his whole life… it is stronger than prune juice.. which .. by the way… they also drink over here.

  15. randomthoughtsfromcali

    I like the look of the bathroom fruit–it reminds me of Christmas bulbs, or those dangly red-balled earrings women used to wear in the 70’s. I have grapes growing in my backyard and they look like the same variety as in the picture. Ours won’t be ready until late August/September.

    1. hehehe.. they do look a little Christmas-y .. now that I think about it… my husband comes from a small village now far from where we now live…. and their main product they produce is the grapes.. so my in-laws smother us in grapes all through this season.. and this is the time.. when I can out eat my husband on the fruit thing.. since I love me some grapes.. and since he grew up around it… he cant stand them….I cant wait.

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