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Riverbank Inventor Brewing Up Ideas
Riverbank resident Sandra Sanchez is hoping to win some financial backing through an entrepreneur challenge to market her soup in a tea bag product. - photo by Marg Jackson/The News

It started when a relative was down and out with a cold and needed a quick, healthy pick me up.

Now, Sandra Sanchez of Riverbank hopes the formula she started tinkering with that day in 2008 will pay dividends.

Sanchez is among those competing in the 2013 San Joaquin Entrepreneur Challenge, making it through the preliminary rounds and still having a chance at a $10,000 cash prize and $14,000 in business services. Finals will be today, March 20, with the original 50 applicants pared down to a previous few from San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, and Tuolumne counties.

She has proposed a business venture of soup in a tea bag, billed as ‘A Healthy Way of Eating’ and containing a mix of herbs, spices and flavorings in a tea bag that you steep in hot water for a quick meal on the go at work or a way to sit and savor the flavor at home.

Sanchez has a background in the food industry and said she just started pulling items out of her brother-in-law’s cupboard to mix him up some soup in 2008.

“Everyone ended up eating it,” Sanchez said of her soup, not just the ill relative.

The all natural herbs and spices can include coriander, ginger, cayenne pepper, with other vegetables like onions and bell peppers also figuring in to the mix. Her Thai Spicy Chicken flavor is the original but now she is experimenting with a few other flavors.

“You make it just like a tea,” she said of putting the bag into boiling water, steeping the ‘soup bag’ to release the flavors. “In the summer months, you can use it as a seasoning or marinade.”

The soup bags have a year-long shelf life, she said, and can be made for under $1.50 per serving.

The challenge, Sanchez said, is getting the word out about the product and being involved in the San Joaquin Entrepreneur Challenge – including making the finals – should help in that regard.

The brand name she has chosen is Mamamosa, and she describes her product as a new ‘ERA’ in soup broths. The names were inspired by her children, her daughter and two sons, Eric, Raquel and Alex, for ERA. The Mamamosa is a tribute to her daughter, she said, with the word her nickname.

“I want to create a legacy for them,” she said of the new venture.

Sanchez is working on additional varieties, such as a chicken curry and spicy caldo de pollo, and is hoping for some financial backing as part of the entrepreneurial challenge. There will be cash prizes and some business start up assistance for the winners and Sanchez will put her best foot forward today during the finals in Stockton, looking to jump start the business.

“My idea is to market it, to have it professionally done,” she explained.

She has sold it at Farmer’s Markets and often brings the soup in for work gatherings.

“It’s exciting, definitely,” she said of making the final cut.

She also noted that one of the other finalists, who has developed a ‘survival stick’ for hikers that is hollowed out with some essential items inside, has contacted her about adding her soup-in-a-tea-bag packets to the stick.

She said having the opportunity to showcase her product has been beneficial already.

“This offers people who have ideas the chance to go after their dreams,” she said.