A ?sugary? pen for your cuppa | india | Hindustan Times
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A ?sugary? pen for your cuppa

DO YOU feel apprehensive while adding ?Sugar Free? to your morning cuppa? Are you scared that these miniscule sized saccharine sweeteners could have a harmful effect on your body? Well relax. There is a natural alternative, which does not have any unsafe chemical.

india Updated: May 12, 2006 15:14 IST

DO YOU feel apprehensive while adding ‘Sugar Free’ to your morning cuppa? Are you scared that these miniscule sized saccharine sweeteners could have a harmful effect on your body? Well relax. There is a natural alternative, which does not have any unsafe chemical.

At first sight they look like a pen. A closer peep reveals their ‘true identity’. They are pens filled with Stevia Rebaudiana, a natural sweetener. Each pen, with a 5 ml capacity, is priced at Rs 79 and one drop is sufficient for a cup.

This pen is generally used for office purpose or when one is mobile. For daily purpose one can use the powdered form of the herb that is cheaper. The commercial variety used for making sugar free ‘Mithais’ (sweets) and sugar free chocolates is white in colour and priced at Rs 4000 per kg.

Stevia Rebaudiana has recently emerged as a safer and healthier option for calorie conscious freaks and the diabetic patients. Known as Mithi Tulsi or Honey Plant, this has its origin in Paraguay.

Herbal farmers of Madhya Pradesh have started cultivating this ‘saccharine plant’ on a large scale because of its high marketing potential. Dr G S Jarial, senior faculty member of CEDMAP, said that a total of 500 farmers had been given training in the last two years to cultivate this plant. The main areas of the state where this plant is grown are Bhopal, Rewa, Indore, Badnagar, Jaora and Mandsaur.

The farmers send the leaves of the plant, which are the sweetening ingredient, to the traders of Rewa, Begusarai near Patna, Benaras, Uttranchal, Punjab and even Bhopal.

The plant grows to a height of two-and-half to three ft. It requires a temperature of 11 to 41 degree Celsius but has been ‘domesticated’ to a temperature slightly above this range also. The general life of these plants is for five years.

While the first cutting is done after five months, the subsequent cuttings can be done after every three months. Cutting is done from the base and the leaves are dried and sold to the traders. Watering is done every fourth day.

The traders then pulverize the leaves and add them to the driers for removing any leftover moisture. They are finally packaged and marketed.

Rajesh Tiwari, a wholesale trader of herbal products says, “The market is gradually picking up. But the people are still not aware of its sweetening benefit.”

So here we have a cuppa that reflects only sweetness.