TEA TOTAL: Reef Younis has been looking into what rock stars do with all that cash they’ve made. No. 10: Moby and his tea shop


Before he became a byword for three-star electronic fodder and a permanent fixture on wanky dinner party mixtapes, Moby was the world’s DJ de riguer. After four albums of inauspicious techno and breakbeat, 1999’s ‘Play’ propelled Richard Melville Hall to unexpected chart, montage, and Sunday morning stardom. Wherever you stand, working with and remixing Michael Jackson, Daft Punk, David Bowie and Brian Eno, and shifting over 20 million albums is no mean feat, especially when you’re also designing and serving a menu with over 90 varieties of loose leaf tea. In 2002, that was exactly what Hall and his then girlfriend were doing.

From part-designing the café’s décor to occasionally waiting tables, Moby helped make TeaNY (you’ve got to give it to him on that name!) the Lower East Side hang out for hipster vegan warriors and Hollywood A-listers. In its heyday, it attracted the likes of Gywneth Paltrow, Alicia Silverstone, Susan Sarandon, and Jason Schwartzman, boasted dietary staples like squash-and-pear and nectarine-and-cantaloupe soup, and spawned the TeaNY Book, presumably full of similarly strange concoctions.


By 2006, though, Moby was ready to step back, and he sold-up to focus on reviving a flat-lining music career. But it wasn’t just TeaNY he needed to shift. “About five years ago, I tried to make my life as complicated as possible,” he said at the time. “I started this restaurant, and I started this Little Idiot Illustrators’ collective, and I started a bottled beverage company, and I bought this piece of property upstate, and suddenly I had this very complicated life… so I spent the year basically trying to get rid of everything.”

Now with his life de-cluttered, the next five albums should have registered more than the tired blips on the electronic landscape. Undeterred, Hall threw himself into political activism, and animal rights as ‘Last Night’ (2008), ‘Wait For Me’ (2009), ‘Destroyed’ (2011), ‘Innocents’ (2013) or last year’s ‘Hotel: Ambient’ generated as many hand-wringing column inches as they did struggling sales.

This year, however, he has announced his return to the restaurateur game with new venture Little Pine – a vegan, dinner-only restaurant in LA. With dishes including lemon mint pea pâté, mushroom leek potpie and vegan chilli, you’d presume that the tea menu’s been scaled back, this time.

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