If you are near Dr Lankapalli Bullaya College near Resapuvanipalem, in the Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh, you must have seen people sipping their tea and then nibbling on the cups. No, the tea drinkers don’t do anything outlandish, aim for a world record or try to find the taste of clay. Manufactured by Sip with Bite, these are edible cups made with a combination of ragi and rice flour and sugar. The mastermind behind the venture is Tammineni Jayalakshmi, a housewife turned entrepreneur. Jayalakshmi says it took her three months to develop a method that can bind rice and ragi flour and that not only tastes good but, most importantly, holds a hot/cold liquid for more than ten minutes.
Jayalakshmi recalls her journey: “I decided to start my own business after my husband became ill due to a plastic particle that accidentally entered his digestive system and affected his liver. Just as he was back and recovering, he contracted COVID; we were all broken. Then I decided to do something to reduce the reliance on plastic, especially when I eat out or have a drink.”
Jayalakshmi considered many different things. It was clear that she would go beyond campaigns to create an alternative for everyday use. “Since people drink tea every day near offices and colleges, I first thought of a teacup. I didn’t want to look at anything like paper or clay cups. The idea was not to add anything to the waste. I also wanted to make something indigenous, something that came from our Telugu states. While experimenting to find the right combination, I spent nearly ₹70,000 just for the ingredients. Since I make traditional sweets and snacks at home, I’ve used the same methods to alternate batters and experiment for edible cups. I’ve combined different batters with different flours to see which lasts longer. Finally I could focus on ragi and rice flour.”
After choosing the flower combination, Jayalakshmi started looking for machines. Since edible wafer cups were already available, she knew that finding the cup shape machines wouldn’t be a difficult task.
After months of practice, she finally set up a small business in February 2021, along with a tea stall for a demo. She soon had people crowding her tea stall for the sheer fun of eating a cup after drinking the tea.
the edible teacup
“The cups are available in different flavors such as vanilla, chocolate, strawberry and natural. People who like flavored tea will like the flavored cups because their taste is slightly infused with the drink. Our cups can hold a hot drink for up to 30 minutes.” Jayalakshmi is delighted with the orders pouring in from different states. “Within a month of setting up the company, we received orders from Bihar, Odisha and Assam. I feel happy with my work.”