Thursday, February 28, 2013

Rollerball Cartridge Swapping - the Pilot G2 and the Baoer Skywalker Rollerball Pens

This morning, one of the readers of this blog, hsmchoi, asked a question of which I had not thought before.
Have you tried putting a G2 refill into the pen - will it fit? Thank you in advance.
Of course, once the question had been raised, I had to test this!

Here we have the three test subjects. From top to bottom, the pens are a Pilot G2 0.38; a Pilot G2 07; and the Baoer Skywalker rollerball, containing its generic, unmarked rollerball cartridge. As the cartridges in the G2 0.38 and the G2 07 are the same, except for the tip width, I experimented with only switching the cartridges from the Skywalker and the G2 07.

Referencing the review that I wrote of the Baoer Skywalker Rollerball, it can be seen that the tip width of the Skywalker's generic cartridge is between that of the G2 0.38 and the G2 07. However, the important question of whether they are interchangeable still remains.

Here are two of the cartridges, side by side. The generic cartridge from the Baoer Skywalker is on top, and the cartridge from the Pilot G2 07 is on the bottom. They appear to be very close in size.

However, upon inserting the G2's cartridge into the Skywalker, I found that the width of the silver tip was too great to fit through the hole in the end of the Skywalker. Thus, I am afraid that the answer to hsmchoi's question is no, refills for the Pilot G2 will not fit in the Baoer Skywalker.

Thank you, hsmchoi, for your excellent question! I enjoyed investigating an answer. Questions like these are always appreciated. Thus, feel free to post comments or questions, below. 

Stained Fingers on Thursday - A Review of Noodler's Bad Belted Kingfisher Ink

This was one of the first darker blues that I ever tried, and I really enjoyed it. I had it in the Lamy Safari demonstrator for months, using it on a daily basis. It just worked, and worked well!

This review was scanned at 600dpi on an HP Officejet 6500 E710n-z.
Note: Because these scans are done with a light emitting printer, actual colors will, more likely than not, be slightly darker than they may appear, here. The colors shown, here, are probably a bit more reminiscent of what the ink would be like under a bright light or if it were held up and viewed with a light behind it.

Tag! You're It!

Hi all,
I wanted to update you on the slew of tags that are now visible in the sidebar of this blog. Intending to make it easier for you, the readers, to find related content, I have gone through past posts and inserted tags of the brand names discussed in the writing. This included pen manufacturers, ink brands, and tea companies. I hope this helps in navigating Built from Ink and Tea!

Tea of the morning: Twining's of London's Lady Grey (bagged)
Fountain pen in use: Baoer #388
...inked with: Montblanc Irish Green (cartridge)

PS This is the one hundredth post on this blog. Thank you, all of you, who read  my blog and have given me fabulous ideas for new content.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tea Review Tuesday - A Review of Tea Forte's African Solstice Rooibos

A Review of Tea Forte's African Solstice Rooibos

To review this tea, I decided to once again utilize my awesome Tea Forte Cafe Cup!
Tea Forte's website recommended steeping this for at least five minutes, so I poured just-boiled water over one pyramid bag and let it steep. The teabag actually remained in the cup for six and a half minutes, but I figured this would not be an issue, as most rooibos blends rarely over-steep.
The dry leaf smells delicious! Lots of tasty-smelling berry aroma.
The liquor brews a deep, dark red, very nearly the color of some red wines. While it still smells like berries, the berry scent has changed to smelling very nearly like juice.
The taste of the steeped tea is very smooth, with a fullness that is neither thick nor watery. The finish is much stronger in berry flavor than is the taste while on the tongue, as though the dominant flavour migrates seamlessly from rooibos to berry.
The smell of this tea was far more bold than the flavor, almost making it a bit disappointing to drink. (I guess I shouldn't let the aroma set my expectations.)
All in all, it was a very tasty tea. Wonderfully fruity, the hint of the rose petals that are part of this tea even peek out in the aftertaste.
On my personal enjoyment scale, I believe I would rate this tea a 75/100.

Tea Forte's African Solstice can be purchased from their website, here.
Photo credit to Tea Forte.
This review was unsolicited and uncompensated.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Stained Fingers on Thursday - Noodler's Black Swan in English Roses Ink - Re-uploaded!

I tried this beautiful ink in my Pilot Metropolitan...and I still love it! The Metropolitan writes wet enough that the ink is a rich color with good character. Here, I have re-uploaded the sample to show the Metropolitan's writing. Enjoy!

This review was scanned at 600dpi on an HP Deskjet F4280.
Note: Because these scans are done with a light emitting printer, actual colors will, more likely than not, be slightly darker than they may appear, here. The colors shown, here, are probably a bit more reminiscent of what the ink would be like under a bright light or if it were held up and viewed with a light behind it.

Tea and Notes at the Office

Making some sencha, while taking notes at work!

Fountain Pen: Baoer Skywalker, medium nib
Ink: Noodler's Nightshade
Paper: Rhodia Dotpad
Tea: Zhena's Gypsy Teas' Sencha green tea

Stained Fingers on Thursday - A Review of Diamine Turquoise Ink

The shades of this ink are a lot brighter than they appear on this paper. In fact, when I first tested them in the J. Herbin Rollerball, I was a bit startled at the fairly intense coloring (though certainly not blinding).

Edit 10/2/13: Re-scanned to add more comparisons.

This scan was done on an HP Deskjet F4280 at 600dpi.
Note: Because these scans are done with a light emitting printer, actual colors will, more likely than not, be slightly darker than they may appear, here. The colors shown, here, are probably a bit more reminiscent of what the ink would be like under a bright light or if it were held up and viewed with a light behind it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tea Review Tuesday - A Review of Canton Tea Co's Alishan High Mountain Oolong

A Review of Canton Tea Co's Alishan High Mountain Oolong

When I opened the package on this tea, I noticed that the smell was wonderful. It was light and sweet in harmony with a flowery oolong smell.
The tightly rolled leaves ranged in color from mid-green to dark greenish brown. I steeped two cups of this tea first, and as it steeped, this tea smelled just as sweet, if not sweeter, than when the leaves were yet dry. In my small teapot, they began to quickly open and expand. The aroma became a bit deeper as it steeped longer, and after a few minutes, I poured the first cup.
The liquor was a lot lighter green than most oolongs I have had recently, which surprised me. Also, there was something now unique about the aroma. It smelled a bit like green tea mochi ice cream to me. The taste of the first cup was full, not very heavy, and definitely still carried those sweet tones with it. There was a playful deliciousness to this tea that made it somehow fun to drink and very enjoyable.
The second pot was just as delicious as the first, and the flavors began to mellow out the longer I drank this tea.
I would rate this tea an 80/100 on my personal enjoyment scale.

Canton Tea Co's Alishan High Mountain Oolong can be purchased from their website, here.
Photo Credit to Canton Tea Co.
This review was unsolicited and uncompensated.

Monday, February 18, 2013

On Gimmicky Tourist Tea...

The rise in the popularity of tea in Western culture, over the past decade or so, has led to a greater demand for teas that were once known and loved only by those Westerners, who were truly "into" tea, usually people, who had been introduced to these teas from China, Japan, and other Eastern countries by peoples of those lands. Teas of the oolong and pu'erh varieties never found large inclusion in the classic English tea times, yet their lack of hyper-popularity actually lends weight to their filling the role of "tourist teas." I guarantee that a visit to the local Chinatown or Oriental market will reveal an abundance of options in these varieties. Often, they are so attractively packaged, as to make wonderful souvenirs...yet the price paid for them can only be for one thing, and it is not the quality. (Yes, I do mean that you pay for the packaging...The tea inside is probably worth less than a tenth of what the cost is...gimmicky, no?)

There is a good example of what I mean, but, first, a bit of definition to provide background. This is from Wikipedia (the information is sound, here): "Pu-erh tea, also spelled as Pu'er tea, is a variety of fermented dark tea... Fermentation is a tea production style in which the tea leaves undergo microbial fermentation and oxidation after they are dried and rolled...All types or pu-erh can be stored for maturity before consumption and that is why it has become common for the products to be labelled with year and region of production." The technicalities of this description could probably be argued, but, for the sake of this article, it is not worth getting into it. Okay, excellent, now that you know what pu'erh tea is... I was in San Francisco's Chinatown, today, and came across these fun-looking items:

"Guang He Jie Pu Cha" reads the label. A small tangerine, stuffed with pu'erh, which has been aged together, imparting some of the tangerine flavor to the pu'erh tea. After buying one of them, knowing that it would be mediocre (at best), I took it home and brewed it. My suspicions were confirmed. While I am not an expert in pu'erh teas (though certainly not an amateur), I can tell you that these are cheap, definitely mediocre, and not worth even the few dollars that they will cost. Are they unique and attractive to tourists? Absolutely! And, because of that, they can be found in Chinatowns from San Francisco to Chicago to New York (yes, even these same little dried tangerines - the same brand at every location, often times).

I am, by no means, railing against such teas. It is my intention, only, to give warning to those, who might be drawn in by the "uniqueness" and left feeling cheated by the pretty packaging, when the taste does not match the flashiness. "You get what you pay for" does not always apply to tea.

A note on the new tag, "teadrunk-en rambles": Being teadrunk is a real thing. I know that it sounds, as gimmicky, as the above tangerines, but, rather than take my word for it, allow me to direct you to some additional information. Lindsey Goodwin at Coffee & Tea has a good description, here, as does Phyll Sheng and Sandy Bushberg, both of T Ching. The euphoric feeling is the aspect that I, personally, feel the most. Today's adventure in Chinatown involved about four hours, straight, of drinking aged pu'erh, followed by a several mile hike and then several more hours of drinking pu'erh, when I returned to where I was staying. Certainly a good time!

Technical tea note: The tea inside in the tangerine is most definitely a shou, yet it is so young as to have a sheng aftertaste and the bite of an immature pu'erh. At the location, where I purchased it, the shopkeeper confirmed that it was only about five years old, probably less. The flavor could probably be improved by five or more additional years in conditions suitable for pu'erh aging, but whether it is worth the time is questionable.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Follow-up on Nemosine Nibs - the 0.6 Stub Nib

Though today's ink review for Stained Fingers on Thursday had already gone live, I had another topic on my mind, which I thought might be of interest, if not a bit related. It centers on one of the Nemosine nibs that I received, when I ordered my Nemosine Singularity and extra, different nibs. Changing nibs can often be a slightly messy business, and, after swapping nibs in my Singularity, last night, my fingers certainly were stained.

I had been in the process of changing out the medium nib for the 0.6 stub, having just fit the nib and feed back into the section, when I noticed something odd. Looking at the underside of the nib and feed, it appeared, as though something was odd with the nib. Upon closer inspection, it appeared that (looking at the underside of the nib), the right-hand tine was shorter than the left-hand tine, and the nib slit was not perfectly centered on the nib itself. In fact, it almost put a slight angle to the nib tip, reminiscent of a left oblique nib.

Knowing that such a nib would affect my grip, even minutely, I took the pen for a test write, paying close attention to how I was holding the Singularity. (I typically pick up pens and let them move naturally in my hand to what position in which I feel they write the best.) As it happened, my grip, while using the 0.6 stub was slightly different from that while using the medium nib. Very, very curious...

My next thought was to whether or not this odd cutting of the nib slit was a fluke. I contacted the friendly and helpful folks at, who informed me that all of the 0.6 stubs were cut this way (though they did not give a reason). So, for better or for worse, there you have it: The Nemosine 0.6 stubs have a unique aspect to their form. It does not seem to detract from the writing experience; it merely changes it, and I continue to highly recommend this pen and its nibs.

Hopefully, these pictures convey my description, well.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to post them!

Edit 11/5/2014: Here is a small writing sample with the 0.6 stub, using Organics Studio Carbon on Field Notes grid.

Stained Fingers on Thursday - A Review of Noodler's Black Swan In English Roses Ink

In honor of St. Valentine's Day, I thought that I ought to post a review of an ink that has everything to do with one of this special day's special symbols: the rose. In case it does not show in the review (joke), I really, really like this ink, and I cannot wait to get more of it. Please, ignore the part of the review where I mention fude nibs. Sheaffer never made a fude nib, and it turned out that the pen, which I thought had a fude nib, actually had a bent nib that still functioned quite well (I got the pen used).

This review was scanned at 600dpi on an HP Officejet 6500 E710n-z.
Note: Because these scans are done with a light emitting printer, actual colors will, more likely than not, be slightly darker than they may appear, here. The colors shown, here, are probably a bit more reminiscent of what the ink would be like under a bright light or if it were held up and viewed with a light behind it.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

On the Drinking of Tea at Work

Most employers, it seems, have not realized the value and benefits of providing loose leaf tea in their break rooms. For this reason, lovers of such teas may find it necessary to take matters into their own hands...

A small container of loose leaf tea in my bag, along with this Finum brew basket, solves the problem and provides a much tastier solution. The drip tray with the brew basket keeps things clean. Eventually, I will bring in my own mug, too. Now, if only I can get my employer to pay for my tea...

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tea Review Tuesday - A Review of Canton Tea Co's Yu Lan Dan Cong Oolong

A Review of Canton Tea Co's Yu Lan Dan Cong Oolong

First impressions of this tea upon opening the package: It smells old, and it smells like lemon. Not a bad old but just...aged. There was also a bit of honey in the smell.
When I poured the water over the leaves, there was a really strong smell of flowers but not an overwhelming smell.
Steeped according to the directions on the website: 1 tbs of leaves per cup of water for about two minutes.
After a couple minutes, I started to notice a deeper oolong smell to the steeping tea. Deep and rich, it smelled wonderful.
My first of this tea was delightful. I felt like my mouth was filled with flowers but not in a bad way at all. Delicious and smooth, I enjoyed how light it felt on my tongue. Then I swallowed the tea and encountered a whole different side. The aftertaste was completely oolong, no more flowers. The oolong flavour was rich and deep, and perhaps even a tad rough (something I am sure that will smooth out after a few steepings).
I had to force myself to drink the first steeping slowly. It was so tasty that I wanted to continue drinking it without taking time to contemplate the tea.
The second steeping tasted much like the first, but sooo much smoother. There was a definite developed sweetness to the tea as well.
This is a great tea for people who want to start drinking oolongs, but are used to the light sweetness of floral green and white teas. I was a little disappointed that this tea did not live up to much of the hype I have heard surrounding Dan Cong oolongs. Regardless of this, I really enjoyed the experience of drinking this tea, and I give it a 85/100 on my personal enjoyment scale.

Canton Tea Co's Yu Lan Dan Cong Oolong can be purchased from their website, here.
Photo credit to Canton Tea Co.
This review was unsolicited and uncompensated.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Stained Fingers on Thursday - A Review of Noodler's Van Gogh Starry Night Ink

Noodler's Van Gogh Starry Night was an ink, which was specially created to be sold to members of The Fountain Pen Network forum. I received a sample of this ink in a swap with another member, and I could not wait to try it. A few weeks ago, I posted about having a Jinhao #159's nib ground to a custom medium stub. I thought this ink would be the perfect coupling for that pen. As can be seen from the edges of the paper, I got a bit carried away in my swabbing. The water test was performed with a wet Q-tip, and, as you can see from the sheet, rubbing at the ink with the water only served to diffuse a bit of it. I am under the impression that this ink is not bulletproof and only partially waterproof. My apologies for the color mix-up in the review, itself.

This review was scanned at 600dpi on an HP Officejet 6500 E710n-z.
Note: Because these scans are done with a light emitting printer, actual colors will, more likely than not, be slightly darker than they may appear, here. The colors shown, here, are probably a bit more reminiscent of what the ink would be like under a bright light or if it were held up and viewed with a light behind it.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Tea Review Tuesday - A Review of Tea Forte's White Ambrosia Tea

A Review of Tea Forte's White Ambrosia Tea

I was really excited to try this tea, as I have a love for white teas that goes unfulfilled, much of the time. Tea Forte's website says that this tea is supposed to have vanilla, coconut, and fruit flavors. To start, I am already a bit apprehensive about the coconut, since the last Tea Forte tea that I tried with coconut ended up with the coconut taste and smell fading away quickly. (That was Tea Forte's Orchid Vanilla black tea, and my review of that tea can be read, here.)
Upon opening the tea bag container, I could smell the vanilla, a lot. The coconut was very prominent in the scent, though the underlying hints of fruit (mango especially) definitely came through.
The website recommends steeping 2-4 minutes, so I decided to go for a happy medium of 3 for this first steep, in a single Tea Forte Cafe Cup.
While the tea was steeping, I thought I would inspect the packaging. Inside the cardboard tea bag container, I found a lot of tea dust. The leaves in the pyramid bag had sadly looked a bit crushed and small. I also found a couple pieces of tan fuzz in the container, which was weird.
Mmm, the smell of this tea is a delicious medley of fruit and vanilla and...barely any coconut. The taste of this tea is very fruity, but not so much that it overpowers the white tea aspect. Vanilla tones float along and mingle wonderfully with the fruit, and comprise much of the aftertaste. In fact, the fruit flavor is reminiscent of a tropical trail mix of dried fruit. One can taste the coconut, but it is not prominent, at all, now.
Truly, it is a delicious tea. I am not disappointed at all. The smell is sweeter than the taste. As my friend who tried this tea with me said, "You smell the flavors more than you taste the flavors."
This tea would taste excellent, if it were iced. It is certainly something I would recommend, especially for lovers of fruity teas. On my personal enjoyment scale, I am going to give it an 80/100. That fuzz was just really strange...

Tea Forte's White Ambrosia Tea can be purchased from their website, here.
Photo credit to Tea Forte.
This review was unsolicited and uncompensated.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

A Review of the Nemosine Singularity Demonstrator Fountain Pen

First Impressions (9)
I love demonstrator pens, and the prospect of an inexpensive but nice-looking demonstrator that also performed well was an almost-irresistable draw. When it arrive in the mail, I opened the simple but nice cardboard box, marked with the location of manufacture and assembly for the nib, body, and unit, as a whole. Sliding the pen from its place of rest, I was drawn to it by the clean and crisp lines. Eagerly, did I reach for some ink.

Appearance (9)
Faintly, the look of this pen with the clip style and branded cap accent band remind me of a certain demonstrator by a well-known pen company, though I cannot place just which exact company or model, right now. (Later edit: Perhaps, it looks a bit like the Monteverde Artista Demonstrator, at least, so far, as the cap and some of the body are concerned.) The Singularity appears to have a great deal of threading, as the threads (for the cap) on the section and those for the body are separated by only an accent band. The large nib looks impressive and helps to offset the not-so-quality-looking grip section. While I may mention it again, later, I am impressed by the look of the Nemosine-branded nibs. Heavily engraved, they carry designs that would seem to be at odds with the look of the pen’s body, yet actually complement it. (The nib features sweeping lines and curls in the etched design.) In the case of the Singularity, simple, classy lines are all it needs to achieve greatness in its looks.

Design/Size/Weight (8)
The one potential design flaw that I spot, immediately, is really just a potential flaw for some people, and I am not one of them. All of the Nemosine nibs are relatively long, and, with how these nibs sit in the section, it may be the case for some that prolonged writing with the grip at such a distance/position becomes uncomfortable, especially for those with small hands. Having the cap screw onto the section, rather than the barrel, was an interesting choice. So far, this has not posed a problem, except, once, when I had the cap screwed on tighter than the barrel (it was after changing the ink). Attempting to unscrew the cap, I, instead, unscrewed the barrel. Where I could see problems, potentially, arising is in the case of an eyedropper conversion (which users on The Fountain Pen Network forum did prove possible).
The grip seems short, because a fifth of the section is threading. However, this does not pose a problem, as the threads have a low enough profile, so that they are comfortable to hold in one’s grip.
Since the only metal on this pen is the nib and accents, it is very light. While perhaps not as light, as a Pilot Penmanship, it is very comfortable to hold. The size in girth is wide enough to be comfortable for a great variety of hand sizes, and the length, unposted, is neither too long or too short for my large hands. As I muse on what more to say, it comes to my mind that this may be one of the most comfortable pens I have ever held.
The two things that I believe could have improved the design of this pen are having the cap screw onto the barrel, rather than the section, and adding just a touch more weight to the pen’s body. While it is not a deal-breaker, I think it would be cool, if Nemosine added their “N” logo to the clip.

Nib (9)
There is so much to say about the nibs. Available Nemosine nibs include extra-fine, fine, medium, 0.6 stub, and 0.8 stub widths. These are all European sizes, and all of them are very smooth and very consistent. The feed allows for a slightly more wet writing experience, but they are as quality, from my experience, as any Lamy Safari nib. Spare nibs are also approximately half of the price of a spare Safari nib, allowing one to try other nib sizes at a lower cost. Unlike Lamy and the typical Pilot nibs, Nemosine nibs and feeds are friction fit without any settings. On one hand, this allows for adjusting how wet/dry the writing experience is, but it may also pose challenges, for the beginner, in changing their nibs. Even though I do not prefer to use them, I am surprised that Nemosine does not make a broad nib. They also do not carry larger stubs, which is unfortunate; however, it is impressive that they do have so many choices.

Filling System (9)
The Nemosine Singularity is a standard cartridge converter, taking both long and short, standard international cartridges with room for a second short cartridge, if one is used. The pen comes with a converter that is of good quality and construction. According to members of The Fountain Pen Network forums, the Singularity can also be converted to an eyedropper filling system. The one negative is that, because of how long the nib is, a greater depth of ink is needed, in order to fill the pen by placing the nib end in ink and using the converter.

Cost and Value (9)
For the same price, as this Nemosine Singularity, you could buy some Jinhao pens, some Bülow pens, the Pilot Metropolitan, or multiple, less expensive writing instruments. However, none of the above, except perhaps the Pilot Metropolitan (an excellent pen), could be so widely appealing, as the Singularity. With its many nibs that are readily available (unlike the Pilot Metropolitan), customization options are broad, and the price for one of these fountain pens (15 USD) is a solid sell, so long as the looks appeal to you.

Conclusion (9)
In closing, speaking to the demonstrator version of this pen, I have yet to find any other demonstrators at or below this price point that have the same look of quality or the same versatility of nib sizes.
The brand name of Nemosine has a ways to go, in order to become well-known in the fountain pen world, but their Singularity Demonstrator does an excellent job of promotion.

NOTE: It has been brought to my attention that the nib pictured is not the same as what is mentioned in the review. I swapped to the medium about half way through writing. Additionally, the nibs shown in the pictures on the website, below, are not those which actually come with the Singularity.
The Nemosine Singularity Demonstrator can be purchased from Amazon or from, here.

This review was unsolicited and uncompensated.