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Li hing mui (Chinese: 旅行梅; Jyutping: leoi5 hang4 mui4) is salty dried plum. In most parts of China it is called huamei (話梅). It was made popular in Hawaii by Yee Sheong, who in early 1900, had began importing Li hing mui and various other preserved fruits i.e. crack seed snacks from China to Hawaii. The Li Hing Mui craze was started by Yee and flourished with the company he founded, Yick Lung. It can be found in Hawaiian and Asian markets. It has a strong, distinctive flavor, and is often said to be an acquired taste, as it has a combination of sweet, sour, and salty taste. It has also been described as tart, and even tangy. Originally from Guangdong Province, the name "li hing mui" means "traveling plum". "Li hing" is "traveling" and "mui" is "plum."
The red powder, called li hing powder consists of ground up plum skin that has previously been pickled in a combination of licorice, [sometimes, but not always [aspartame]], food coloring, salt, and sugar. Li hing powder is sold separately and can be used as a flavoring usually sprinkled on candy and other fruits notably pineapples and apples. In the United States Li hing mui powder can be found in Hawaii where local children like to put li hing powder on sour gummy bears, sour gummy worms, sour watermelon candy, sour patch kids, shave ice, sour apple candy, rock candy, popcorn, and arare (also known as kakimochi and mochi crunch).
Recently, people have also been putting li hing powder into their alcoholic drinks—mainly tequila and cocktails. Many bars in Hawaii replace salt with this powder, since this powder is not only salty, but sweet and sour as well. Other people also feel that it gives a tart and sometimes tangy twist. Many bars in Hawaii also rim their glasses with li hing powder in addition to putting it in the drink.
Note that Li Hing powder is used on different plum varieties, and it comes in different colors. The "red" powder is popular on fruits and assorted red plum varieties. A "white" powder version is more commonly used on dried/dehydrated plums.