- Words Russell Dean Stone
- Photography William Spooner
- Hair Lauraine Bailey using Maria Nila
- Make up Gabriella Floyd using Murad Skincare and Charlotte Tilbury
- Photography Assistant Lewis Khan
Cosmic vibrations, love, weed and new age spiritualism, Greentea Peng is here to free your mind and cleanse your aura.
“One time I saw this green tea box in Peru and it was like so peng,” begins Greentea Peng. “The packaging was amazing. I’ve got the photos still. It’s this sexy woman with green leaves covering her, like a green leave bikini—I fell in love with it. It was called Green Tea Seng but I was like ‘oi greentea peng!’ and it just stuck.”
For those not in the know, ‘peng’ is slang for good, fit, tasty—it’s one of Greentea Peng’s favourite words and green is her favourite colour, naturally. Her face and torso are adorned with ornate tattoos featuring weed leaves, snakes and a lotus flower. They’re the kind of tattoos that inevitably attracted attention. Within minutes of meeting Peng outside Tesco, she’s already making a new age new friend (a self identified “Earth protector” with a YouTube channel called Azure Peace)—it’s clear this is a routine happening and Peng is a magnet for this kind of energy.
Having grown up in Bermondsey before relocating to Hastings when she was 12, Peng moved back to the big smoke at the earliest opportunity and wound up working behind the bar at iconic Dalston night spot Visions. That’s when she started making music under the Greentea Peng moniker, with producers like Earbuds. The sounds on her debut six-track EP, SENSI, are soul soothing, mind-expanding (maybe even altering), blissed out tracks for late night stoners concerned with love, honesty and spiritual vibes. Bless up!
What was it like moving from London to Hastings when you were younger?
Completely different. Hated my mum at first, totally begrudged her for it. In hindsight I appreciate the decision a lot, I’m grateful for it. Moved back to London on my ones when I was 16/17, well I moved into my dad’s for like a week, then I moved in with my boyfriend. At the time I was going Hackney College, it was jokes, tried to do an art course, thought it was going to be easy—it was not easy! Dropped out after like two months and started working at Visions instead.
When did you first start singing?
I was singing in school, I used to go church choir back when I lived in London and then when I went to Hastings I joined a youth group and that’s when I started using Garageband to make beats and I was doing performances around Hastings and festivals and that. I probably stopped when I was 15 and I didn’t start again until two years ago. It was a long break, I literally never thought I was gonna sing again to be honest.
What made you start singing again?
It was part of my healing process, as soon as I began on that journey I think the music was just naturally going to be a part of that, I just had to be ready for it.
What were you healing from?
Everyone’s got healing to do, it’s just a planet full of broken people. Things that you think are insignificant from the past actually have big effects on you and you don’t realise. You can go your whole life living in certain behaviour and thought patterns and never question it until you’re confronted with it and the universe is like ‘rah you need to change this’ and you get a slap in the face. We’re all living unconsciously innit, we’re all walking around with our eyes closed, there’s so many distractions, we grow so far away from ourselves. I got so far away from my true self I was just going to self destruct.
It feels like we’re the first generation to recognise the long term effects micro-aggressions can have.
We’re lucky because our generation, we think about things like this but the generations that came before us, like when you try and talk to the older generations and have conversations like this, there’s so many rules. It’s just like, block it and ignore it and man up and get on with it, but there’s no real progress until you battle these things because they’re just hindrances. The way you form relationships, your romantic relationships, everything is affected. I realised I wasn’t my best self at all, my frequency was down, I was not in a good place and the music just proper helped me come out of it. Living in Mexico helped too, being in paradise, being away from the city.
Do you believe in the power of the moon?
Of course man! The moon, and the sun and the earth and the sky, that’s all I believe in the power of to be honest. Humans have a lot of power that we don’t realise. The elements are the greatest things to me, the things that blow my mind like space, the universe, moon, sun—mad. I would say I’m a sun worshipper, I love it, it makes me happy, when it’s not there I’m a completely different person. The moon obviously does bits. It’s intense. Sometimes when it’s a new moon or a full moon, I feel a bit mad depending on where I am.
Is everything connected?
One hundred percent, we just would like to think that it’s not. Everything is connected apart from humans it seems, because the animals chat to each other, and the trees chat to each other, and clouds chat to each other, but we’re probably the most disconnected. It’s sad because we could be living in such an amazing place. There’s no space between anything, we can’t see it but there’s energy man—fully.
Is it hard to be spiritual in such a tumultuous time?
Of course it is but that’s deliberate. Everything in place in the West is in place to distract you from the real shit that is actually happening, or there to plant fear inside you, or doubt. It’s hard to be spiritual in London but at the same time, if you can manage to flip it, London’s actually a sick place and if you can see through all the bullshit and try and create your own reality, then it can be an inspirational place. I write most of my songs here and it’s just part of the battle isn’t it? I don’t think it’s meant to be easy. Everyone’s trying to be enlightened—sometimes I think people who don’t know me might assume that’s my attitude because of some of my tattoos and stuff, but actually it’s all just pure reminders because I need to be reminded.
That stuff takes time, it takes work.
That’s your whole life. Death brings the answers. This whole life is about the work, your spiritual life, your dharma. Finding your way to heal and then healing everyone around you. We speak about it like it’s a separate thing, but essentially we are all spirits in these bodies living out human experiences and there’s nothing separate to us and all anyone needs is the space and time to go inside themselves a bit without any distractions.
What are your parents like?
They’re sick and the older I get, the relationship gets better. I’m similar to my mum in how we are and how we’re viewed, but I’d say I’m similar to my dad with my thought patterns and my funny ways that I get into and my moods. I’m a good balance of the pair. They were both absolutely mental when they were my age [laughs]. I love my parents.
From a young age they gave me choices and I had decisions. I’d dress myself, feed myself, I wanted to learn how to cook, I was always talking about living on my own from five, making my little den, being like you can’t come in. They were Rachel and Adrian they were never mum and dad.
School was the complete opposite, I used to fucking hate having to wear the same clothes as everyone, I used to always try and customise my uniform and jazz it up a bit, and I’d always get told off for it. At a young age, when you want to be expressing yourself, not being punished for it. It was a big contrast.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
I dunno man that’s such a weird question bro. My aesthetic changes from day to day, sometimes I want to wear a tracksuit and a pair of trainers and sometimes I want to wear a bright purple dress—I kind of dress for my mood. When I’m feeling down I’ll tend to wear black to sink into it more and other times I’ll be like, ‘I need to bring myself out of this, I need to wear bright yellow’.
Your tattoos are a big part of your look.
I try not to be too attached to my body and think of it more as something to decorate and express myself through.
You feel very real.
Always try to be honest, in more recent years. I used to be a very dishonest person and it’s not a nice energy to be in.
Are you a typical sagittarius?
There are some traits in me that are typical: unsettled, indecisive, flirtatious, outspoken [laughs]. I’m just highlighting all the negatives ones aren’t I? See what I’m like with myself. Also super friendly, loyal, misunderstood, fiery.
Are you superstitious?
I try not to be because it almost veers into paranoia.
Do you believe in magick?
Yes bruv, I believe in wizards and witches. I feel like a witch. I was definitely a witch in a past life, I haven’t managed to unlock my powers yet but it’ll come.