November 19, 2009 / 6:01 AM / 9 years ago

Can't get sugar? Try sweets in your tea

KARACHI (Reuters Life!) - As Pakistanis face an acute shortage of sugar, some families have found an easily available alternative to sweeten their tea: instead of a spoonful of sugar, they dissolve sweets in their tea.

A laborer carries over a dozen pots of mixed black tea to sell to shop-keepers through a market in Peshawar, located in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province on April 23, 2009. REUTERS/Ali Imam

Shaikh Kashif, an embroiderer for a boutique in Karachi, said his favorite was a Cadbury Eclair.

“We can’t live without tea so we had to do something,” said Kashif, 27, from his small workshop in an upmarket city neighborhood.

“It just costs a rupee (1.2 U.S. cents) per candy and is easier to get these days than sugar,” he said.

Pakistan is facing a shortage of more than 1 million metric tons of sugar largely because of a poor crop of sugarcane.

Supplies have been particularly scarce since last month when surging prices led to a Supreme Court order to millers to sell sugar at 40 rupees/kg (48 U.S. cents), compared with the then-market price of about 46 rupees/kg.

Government attempts to implement the court decision have led to confusion, sparking even higher market prices. Authorities are trying to get cheap supplies out to shoppers but sugar has almost disappeared at main retail markets in Karachi.

Where it is available, it sells for as much as 70 rupees a kg.

That’s not a problem for Kashif who said the sweets he put in his tea gave it a chocolaty taste.

“Some in my family didn’t like that so they’re using a local candy which melts easily when you put it in a hot cup of tea,” he said. “We had to think of something to replace sugar and it’s worked for us.”

Reporting by Faisal Aziz; Editing by Robert Birsel

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