Dubai's sweet and spicy karak tea is an expat addiction

Published:  16 Jan at 6 PM
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Tagged: Citizenship, Dubai, UAE
Expat professionals settling into a new posting in Dubai soon become addicted to the ultra-sweet, spicy karak tea.

Especially during the cooler winter months, the UAE’s favourite beverage is the sweet karak tea beloved by Arab nations since their days in the desert. Every café and street stall which sells karak tea is crowded with both expat and local customers addicted to its sweet, spicy taste, but does anyone known exactly how unhealthy as regards sugar levels it is – and if they do, do they care?

The UAE government may be well aware it’s not the healthiest of drinks but, despite a recently introduced sin tax on products using added sugar, karak tea wasn’t included as it’s made up where it’s sold rather than in factories. Recently, one concerned English language online newspaper attempted to research the tea’s contents only to find every café has its own secret recipe. Unwilling to give up, the reporter’s discovery is as follows.

First of all, three spices – ginger, cinnamon and cardamom – combine to give the tea its rich taste, topped up with a pinch of saffron and the tea powder itself. Evaporated milk in quantity is used, as is extra sugar, both in high proportions, and some outlets even add crumbled caramelised biscuits for added flavour whilst others add chocolate éclairs. One way or another, the sugar content of the tea is massive!

According to one hospital dietician, the equivalent of four teaspoons of sugar at the very least is found in just one cup of karak tea. At the present time, the UAE government is urging its citizens and expats to cut down on their sugar intake, especially in cakes and sweet drinks. However, to the vast majority of locals and a good number of expats, karak tea is addictive, especially for those who’re tired or cold. Finally, the reporter canvassed karak drinkers in a local market on the subject of excessive sugar, getting the expected replies indicating no-one was even slightly concerned about its sugar content.
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