Entrepreneurial farmer’s wife Amanda Hanna has launched a novel afternoon tea

Amanda launches her first afternoon tea at Easter which drew thousands of visitors to the brooding Dark Hedges of the television blockbuster Game of Thrones close to her farm shop
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Entrepreneurial farmer’s wife Amanda Hanna has launched a novel afternoon tea on the back of her success in hand crafting a range of products such as jams, relishes, puddings and cakes at Jam at the Doorstep deli and farm shop in Armoy.

Amanda, a passionate cook, explains: “I decided to launch a unique Causeway Coast Afternoon Tea event to offer tourists and other visitors a farm house setting in which to enjoy a break when in the area. I’ve also been influenced by the growing popularity in ‘cream teas’ especially in Britain. I saw it as a golden opportunity to introduce visitors to the other wonderful food and soft drinks now available from local producers across the Causeway.”

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Amanda launched her first afternoon tea at Easter in time for the spring season which drew thousands of visitors to the brooding Dark Hedges of the television blockbuster Game of Thrones close to her farm shop.

She’s currently extending the farm shop on the family’s dairy farm and is stocking it with food products from local suppliers from the Causeway region and from further afield. Amanda is also an enthusiastic member of the Taste of Causeway body which promotes local food and drink at a host of activities and through digital sales from its popular website.

Amanda’s new afternoon tea is a lavish home cooked feast that includes freshly prepared vegetable soup served with handcrafted wheaten bread, smoked salmon, butcher’s sausage rolls, cheeses, jams and relishes, as well as the traditional cucumber sandwiches, scones, tray bakes and buns with freshly brewed tea or coffee. The sandwiches even include a Causeway favourite – chocolate and apple.

All the sandwiches are served with local potato crisps from the region.

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Other local artisan suppliers contributing to the farmhouse feast are Amazin’ Grazin’ breads from Portstewart, Glens of Antrim Crisps from Cushendall, North Coast Salmon from Ballycastle, Dungiven’s Dart Mountain Cheese, and Ballyrashane Butter and Taste Joy peanut dessert, both from Coleraine.

Amanda Hanna hosting a recent afternoon tea session in her Armoy farmhouseAmanda Hanna hosting a recent afternoon tea session in her Armoy farmhouse
Amanda Hanna hosting a recent afternoon tea session in her Armoy farmhouse

“I really hope people from everywhere will enjoy this unique farmhouse experience with me in my kitchen. We’ve hosted several already which guests have enjoyed the flavours of the Causeway. I’ve also briefed guests on now I prepare my afternoon treats,” adds Amanda.

A selection of farm baked shortbread and other treats will be available from Amanda’s for sale from over to the farm shop.

The afternoon teas are all scheduled for Saturday’s during May, June, July and into September.

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“After these dates we will run Christmas afternoon teas. We haven’t just decided on these dates as yet,” she adds.

Enjoying the tea and home bakes – visitors at one of Amanda’s popular afternoon teasEnjoying the tea and home bakes – visitors at one of Amanda’s popular afternoon teas
Enjoying the tea and home bakes – visitors at one of Amanda’s popular afternoon teas

“Our afternoon teas are so much more than the traditional fayre. They will include be a full lemon curd demonstration to show participants how I make the jam. I even thrown in a recipe for participants to try making their own at home. There’ll also be a free pot of lemon curd at the end. The events will also feature stories from the local area and plenty of craic from the area,” she adds.

Showcasing her skills and enterprise in the kitchen isn’t new for Amanda. A busy mother of four, Amanda won acclaim and gained extensive business from baking thousands of Christmas puddings last year. Converts to her quality puddings included celebrity chef Paula McIntyre of Hamely Kitchen fame.

Amanda also finds time to help husband Arthur milk their 150-strong dairy herd and organise the school run.

Further encouragement for the small business came in the shape of UK Great Taste Awards, among the most influential food and drink competitions in the UK, Republic of Ireland and further afield. Amanda gained Great Taste gold stars for her sticky toffee and Christmas puddings.

Amanda is following the rich UK-wide heritage of afternoon tea that stretches back generations and has been revived in recent years. Whilst the custom of drinking tea dates back to the third millennium BC in China and was popularised in England during the 1660s by King Charles 11 and his wife the Portuguese Infanta Catherine de Braganza, it was not until the mid 19th century that the concept of ‘afternoon tea’ first appeared.

The pause for tea became a fashionable social event. During the 1880’s upper-class and society women would change into long gowns, gloves and hats for their afternoon tea which was usually served in the drawing room between four and five o’clock.

Traditional afternoon tea consists of a selection of dainty sandwiches (including of course thinly sliced cucumber sandwiches), scones served with clotted cream and preserves. Cakes and pastries are also served. Tea grown in India or Ceylon is poured from silver tea pots into delicate bone china cups. Amanda, however, has added considerable value for visitors to the original concept in shape of a range of farmhouse foods.

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