Thursday, October 31, 2013

Stained Fingers on Thursday - A Review of De Atramentis Frankincense Ink

Looking back on the use of this ink, I realize that I really enjoyed it. What I do not mention in the review, below, is that it actually had a very nice smell, too. I have never smelled actual frankincense, but, if it smelled like this, I imagine that I might enjoy it. Please ignore the fact that I refer to it as a green ink. It is definitely a primarily grey ink.

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.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Unconventional Tea Reviews - A Review of Monster Rehab: Tea + Orangeade + Energy

In reviewing the second of these tea-infused Monster energy drinks, the thought came to my mind that it certainly would be nice, if they had come up with a more unique title for each one. "Monster Rehab" is a fine title for the series, but when the name of their drink is essentially a listing of the major flavors and/or ingredients, someone in Monster's marketing department needs to take a second look at the name of each drink.

That being said, none of you came here to listen to a ramble on the naming of Monster energy does this beverage taste? First, just like Monster Rehab: Rojo Tea + Energy, this one is non-carbonated, a choice that I feel enhances the flavors of the beverage. As for those flavors, well, it tastes a lot like orange soda.

Unlike sipping an orange juice or one of the numerous, synthetic orange juice offsprings (Tampico Punch, Tang, etc.), this Monster's orange flavor has relatively low levels of tangy-ness or sourness. This in turn smooths the flavor of the beverage and makes it more drinkable. (I am not certain, if it is actually less acidic than an orange juice, or if it merely tastes that way.)

The tea portion of this Monster contains a brewed black tea. Tea lovers, do not come looking for tea in this beverage. I found the tea flavors to be very minor, and they reside mostly in the aftertaste.

If you enjoy pouring your Monster beverages in a cup, perhaps over ice, prepare yourself to not be impressed by the coloring, here. In fact, upon emptying this can into a glass, I was greeted with a liquid, which had the appearance of muddy, orange water - not at all visually appealing. That being said, I am sure that most consumers of this drink probably leave it in the can.

In conclusion, while I am glad that I had the chance to try this drink in the Monster Rehab series, I am further looking forward to trying the others. This one did not have bad flavor, and it would certainly appeal to those, who enjoy orange soda. That being said, Monster Rehab: Tea + Orangeade + Energy was simply "not my cup of tea."

Be sure to check out my first review of a Monster Rehab energy drink, where I take a look at Rojo Tea + Energy! I welcome your thoughts, comments, and questions, below.

Photo credit to

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Fountain Pen Day Special Offer!

For all of the wonderful readers of this blog (and any who may have just started reading), I bring you this great offer from European Paper! Click on the picture, below, to be taken to European Paper's site and use the code mentioned, when checking out, for 5% off your order.

Tea Review Tuesday - A Review of TeaFrog's Gingerbread Orange Rooibos

Mmm, rooibos, orange peels, almonds, cardamom, and coriander...this sounds like a delicious tea in the making! When I first opened the package, it was definitely the almond scents that struck my nose first. Then came sweet, slightly juicy undertones. In preparing this tea, I utilized a two-cup teapot, 1 tablespoon of TeaFrog Gingerbread Orange Rooibos (two times the recommended 1.5 teaspoon per cup), and freshly boiled water.

Pouring the water over the mixture, the dominant smell wafting up in the steam was actually orange. I felt this was a good sign, since the name of the tea is Gingerbread Orange. The recommended five minutes passed, I removed the infuser, taking a moment to eyeball the tea. I could easily pick out the cardamom, coriander, and orange bits in among the rooibos. I was not too sure about where the almond was, but I knew I had smelled it earlier...oh, there are a couple of pieces. Whew. My nose has not deceived me.

I take my first sip. Hmmm, I can definitely taste the cardamom. It is coming through quite dominantly. I take another sip, and another, and finish off the first cup. My thoughts so far run somewhere along the line of: it tastes spicy, as gingerbread does, but yet...this tea has not so far reminded me of gingerbread. The spiciness of the flavor is quickly followed by tasty orange, and then some almond-esque undertones. Not having fully felt that I understand this tea and all that it has to offer, I pour myself a second cup.

The deep orange-red, nearly rust, color of this tea is quite pretty. As I sip this second cup, it seems that it follows much like the first. However, I am now beginning to follow the connection of the flavor of this tea to the flavor of gingerbread. This connection is especially prominent in the aftertaste, which is quite pleasant. I finish off the pot with a new outlook on this tea.

I think this tea would be a great treat any time of the day. I drank it in the morning and really enjoyed the experience, but I can see it being a lovely evening tea as well. If you are interested in this tea, I would definitely recommend trying some. I would rate it an 85/100 on my personal enjoyment scale.

TeaFrog's Gingerbread Orange Rooibos is available from their website, here.
This review was unsolicited and uncompensated.
Photo credit to TeaFrog.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Nock Co. Kickstarter Is Closing Soon!

Wow...after twenty-eight days, the Nock Co. Pen Case Kickstarter has been a huge success and raised funds far exceeding their goal. Congratulations to Nock Co!

However, the fun is not done! Their Kickstarter campaign continues through the 30th of October. If you have not taken a look at their fabulous cases, I highly recommend going and checking them out. Nock Co. has a case to meet every pen, notebook, or pocket tool carrying need!

This post is unsolicited and uncompensated.
Photo credit to Nock Co.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Fountain Pen Day 2013 Is Coming!

Hello everyone!

Some travels recently have kept me from more extensive posts (there are Lego book and fountain pen reviews in the pipeline, I promise!) However, I had to take this opportunity to tell you about Fountain Pen Day!

Traditionally, Fountain Pen Day is the first Friday of every November, which means that, this year, it falls on Friday, November 1, 2013 - soon! This year marks the second of this annual tradition, and we hope that it will be as successful as last year.

What is Fountain Pen Day? Simply put, Fountain Pen Day involves "Taking a day to embrace, promote, and share fountain pens and the handwritten arts." Do you prefer a dip pen over a fountain pen? No problem! Even ballpoint users can celebrate the art of handwriting (we will not shun you!)! So, how can you celebrate? Write letters, share pens, tell other people about pens, and impart to them the joys of writing things by hand!

In all of this, you all will benefit! A number of vendors have chosen to help celebrate the day by sponsoring Fountain Pen Day. The official sponsor list also keeps a list of those sponsors, who are having store specials on or around Fountain Pen Day. Check them out, here!

Additionally, there may be some special Fountain Pen Day goodness coming from Built from Ink and for it!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Stained Fingers on Thursday - A Review of Montblanc Mystery Black Ink

The last time I visited my local Montblanc boutique (to gaze in wonder upon the Montblanc Heritage 1912), I got to try a small sample their ubiquitous black ink.

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.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Grand TWSBI Review - Part 4. A Review of the TWSBI Tri-Tech iSmart Multifunction Pen

Originally, the plan for the Grand TWSBI Review had been to work through the currently existing fountain pen models in a semi-logical order, based on model number. However, with the recent release of the TWSBI Tri-Tech iSmart Multifunction Pen, I wanted to provide all of you with information on this new writing instrument, as soon as possible. The ROC 100, 580, Mini, and 700 will wait. For an index of all of the currently-released reviews in this series and a brief background, see Part 1. Introduction, here.

First Impressions (7)
When ordering this pen, I had not noticed that the white is slightly pearlescent. It is not bad and is very subtle. The pen is thin, though not quite as thin as a disposable ballpoint. It also clicks, which could annoy some people. (More on that later.) Good looking? Yes. Useful? We will see...

Appearance (8)
In typical TWSBI fashion, the Tri-Tech iSmart has been designed for a handy, yet stylish look. In fact, while most of their pens exhibit the casual look of demonstrators, the solid white (or dark blue) of the Tri-Tech “dresses it up” a bit. The body is plain, broken only by the chrome tip, mid-ring, clip, and end-ring. These, too, are unadorned chrome, except for the mid-ring with its engraved “TWSBI.” On the tip, the chrome is grooved around a portion, which suggests to me the ability to unscrew the tip. However, such is not the case, and this must have been placed here for an unknown purpose. I find these grooves to be located too far down on the pen to use as grips of any sort. Similar grooves are at the opposite end of the pen, near the stylus. These are purposed to help the user unscrew the piece that holds the stylus tip. Conveniently, the cartridge refills have a small colored ring on them for easy distinguishing.

Design/Size/Weight (7)
One of the most noticeable attributes of this pen is its size. TWSBI has crafted this multifunction writing instrument to be just a bit thicker than a disposable ballpoint. With length, TWSBI seems to have found a functional, one-size-fits-almost-all length to accommodate as many hand sizes as possible. The step from one half of the barrel to the next is not too extreme, making it comfortable, no matter where that step lands on one’s hand.

As previously mentioned, the grooves on the tip do not serve as a finger stop, but by no means do they detract from the design. The clip is tight, but it does stretch and seems fairly sturdy. For testing the stylus, I turned to a coworker, who is a frequent stylus user, tapping (stylus-ing?) at several touchscreen devices, during the course of a typical day. When I first asked him to test the stylus, he was skeptical, as it is rubber rather than mesh (which makes a superior stylus in his opinion). Yet, after a short time of use, he stated that this stylus was better than many rubber ones, which he had previously used.

My two major design complaints come with the function-switching. While the actual switching between pens and pencil is simple enough - just twist the upper body - there is no true position to “close” the pen. Instead, a user must twist the body halfway, retracting the current tip but not extending the next.  The second complaint is related: because the hole in the tip is open so wide (probably to allow for ease of function-switching), the extended ballpoint will bend slightly and “click” against the side of the opening, when the pen is lifted from, and pressed to, the paper.

Changing refills is a simple matter of pulling the body in half. While not weighty, the pen has a nice, moderate heft to it, along with a fantastic balance. Finally, it seems to me that this pen looks remarkably like the Montesa Tri-Tech, which was once produced by TWSBI... This design looks to have improved on that one. In some respects, it is unfortunate that they removed the eraser in favor of a stylus.

Nib (7)
Since this pen is not a fountain pen, a brief review of the refills shall take the place of discussing the nib. The pencil lead is 0.5 mm and there is not much more to say! Both the black and red refills are 0.7 mm, which is a decently bold line for daily writing. They are TWSBI-branded and shorter than standard refills. While perhaps not as smooth as writing with the expensive Montblanc ballpoint refills, these nonetheless provided a moderately smooth writing experience. One negative thing I noticed was some line inconsistency. In a fountain pen, this “shading” might be desirable, but such is not the case in a ballpoint. With the refills being as short as they are, I have a small concern about the availability of refills for the ballpoints.

Filling System (9)
Thankfully, TWSBI has placed directions in the package on how to change the refills. While the changing is easy, the methodology is not immediately obvious upon looking at the pen. First the two halves of the body are pulled apart. Then, either of the ballpoint refills may be lifted out and replaced. To add more lead, the mechanical pencil portion further splits in half, width-wise (not length-wise), and more lead may be inserted.

Cost and Value (7)
Based on the quality construction, this pen certainly fits into the mid-range of ballpoints and mechanical pencils. This midrange also has prices that vary greatly. I would say that the Tri-Tech iSmart sits on the lower end of that price range, which contains a lot of $40-ish pens. This one easily matches those for build quality, though it may not be as flashy. However, the refill quality concerns me - I would have expected better from TWSBI.

Conclusion (8)
(7.5/10 actual score)
In conclusion, I feel that TWSBI has crafted a winner of a pen, but they have fallen short on refill quality and availability. Placing all of this functionality in one instrument, yet keeping the size to a slender and quality-looking profile was well done. The size and weight will be appreciated by many, yet I think many will be disappointed by the mediocre writing quality. (Changing the ballpoint refills would do wonders for this pen as a whole.)

This review was unsolicited and uncompensated.
The TWSBI Tri-Tech iSmart is available directly from TWSBI, here, or from their Amazon store, here (in white) and here (in dark blue).

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tea Review Tuesday - A Review of TeaFrog's Blueberry Flavored White Tea

The first thing I noticed was the beautiful blue flowers interspersed into this tea. They definitely added an enjoyable element to the presentation. Following the suggestions of the package, I steeped this tea for two minutes, using three teaspoons of leaf (in a two-cup teapot). The water was heated to the point where small bubbles were forming on the bottom of the kettle (a good sign that the water is hot enough for white tea).

I am really impressed by the aroma of this tea. I have drunk a few blueberry white teas before, most of which tasted immensely of blueberries, but in an almost-artificial manner. This tea is different. The blueberry flavor does not jump out at the drinker. Instead, it meshes well with the flavors of the Pai Mu Dan base. The blueberry flavors are everywhere throughout the tea, when it is first sipped and in the aftertaste, but the flavors do not dominate. Thankfully, they also do not underwhelm. It may sound like this is a lot to say to merely describe the way in which this tea is well-balanced, but it is my opinion that this tea deserves the accolades. I really enjoyed drinking this tea. It is indeed worthy of the 93/100 I give it on my personal enjoyment scale.

TeaFrog's Blueberry Flavored White Tea is available from their website, here.
This review was unsolicited and uncompensated.
Photo credit to TeaFrog.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

A Review of the Noodler's Konrad Flex Fountain Pen in Fleur de Lis Blue Tortoise

Before I begin the review, I would like to specify the Noodler's Konrad discussed here is the original, flex version, made of a celluloid derivative, and it should not be confused with the new ebonite or acrylic Konrad flex versions.

First Impressions (9)
The tortoise pattern on this pen is gorgeous. Even better is that all of the tortoise patterns are different, offering a new look with each pen, completely unique. Capped, it is a lot shorter than I expected. If not for the tortoise, this pen would be very plain and unassuming.

Appearance (9)
The Fleur de Lis Blue Tortoise Konrad has an excellently matching color scheme from the solid blue cap, grip, and blind cap to the silver accents and of course the tortoise body. The swirling tortoise colors are set with a deep blue background, nearly unseen. The tortoise pattern is different for each pen, but this one is particularly deep and dark (though I have seen the opposite, even on this model - vibrant and bright swirls of color). When viewed next to the tortoise body, the blue portions seem almost dull, but they really have a subtle richness to them, unnoticed at first glance. Overall, the shape and lines are reminiscent of a vintage pen, and it presents itself well.

Design/Size/Weight (8)
While it may not look it at first glance, this pen is comfortable. This is despite the fact that the threads and upturned front end (on the section) appear sharp and awkward. They truly (and surprisingly) are not.

Speaking of the threads, I find it strange, yet purposeful, as to their placement. They are located on the section, just behind the grip, but before the ink window, seeming very close to the nib. However, when the cap is screwed onto the pen, it covers the ink window and part of the barrel, and the nib is nearly all of the way to the end of the cap. This serves to leave a still-short pen, even while capped.

The nib and feed are friction-fit, and the piston knob is covered by a blind cap. The pen may also be fully disassembled with nib, feed, and piston mechanism removed. The overall style was aimed toward that of vintage piston-fillers, according to the creator, but he also wanted it to be easily fixable, if not customizable, as well. That said, I wish the piston mechanism used a knob that was the same size (or so) as the blind cap, rather than the very small knob, currently under the blind cap.

Overall, the pen is very light, being made from a celluloid derivative. Most of the weight that is felt resides in the nib and feed, which does cause the pen to feel slightly front-heavy.

Nib (7)
The nib, which comes with the Noodler’s Konrad is a steel flex nib of little note. It flexes with a good bit of pressure, and the line is consistent, though not very smooth. The nib will write without flex, if very little pressure is applied. That being said, note the relatively high score for the nib part of this pen. Customization is the key to that! The Konrad takes a #6 nib, easily acquired in a multitude of forms and sizes. As of July of 2013, Noodler’s now produces an inexpensive steel standard nib for #6 settings. The Nemosine nibs also fit well, and they are available in EF, F, M, B, 0.6, and 0.8 sizes. Bock and JoWo also produce #6 nibs, such as those used by TWSBI in their Vac 700 pens. The Goulet Pen Company has begun to offer inexpensive, yet quality, JoWo #6 nibs, actually intended (in part) for the Noodler’s Konrad and Ahab. Yet the customization does not stop here. As the feed is  made of ebonite, nibs may be “heat set” with their feed for optimal fit, flow, and performance. Well-planned, Noodler’s!

Filling System (8)
Ahhh, the Konrad’s filling system... a very interesting piston-filler. The filling is managed by means of a piston knob, hidden below a blind cap on the end of the pen. I found that the knob was a bit small, sometimes causing it to be less than ideal in filling. Moreover, the piston mechanism was far from the smoothest that I have tried. It is not bad, but it could be better.

Cost and Value (9)
I truly believe that the value of this pen lies in how it is seen by its owner (or future owner). If it is seen, as Noodler’s intended for it to be seen, a craft-like pen to be changed (as with the nib) to the liking of the user, then its value is great. To have a flexible (in the figurative sense of the word) pen, in which I may use a myriad of nibs with a fully-adjustable feed, is of great value to me. Someone looking for a replacement for their vintage flex pen might have a totally different opinion (which might be changed yet again, if they fit a Konrad with a vintage flex nib). Depending on how one looks at it, this pen’s retail cost of $20 is a good deal. It can be gotten for even less - a greater deal.

Conclusion (8)
In conclusion, I feel that the Noodler’s Konrad, in one of its many colors, with one of many nibs, would appeal to nearly anyone. However, the Konrad may be too large for some writers with small hands. I deliberated for a long time, whether or not I wanted one of these pens enough to acquire it. Using it with a fine nib of another brand, I have never been disappointed.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Stained Fingers on Thursday - A Review of Lamy Blue Ink

After years of owning Lamy fountain pens, especially the Lamy Safari, all of which came with cartridges of Lamy Blue ink, I finally wrote a review!

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.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Unconventional Tea Reviews - A Review of Monster Rehab: Rojo Tea + Energy

This evening I am bringing you a tea review of a slightly different kind. I had the opportunity to try an energy drink from Monster, called "Rehab: Rojo Tea + Energy," and the name was intriguing and certainly drew me! Before I get to the review, a bit of clarification is in order. That to which Monster is referring as "rojo tea" is actually rooibos. I have held small rants in the past about how rooibos, for all its awesomeness, is not actually a tea, per se. But I digress, and in Monster's defense there is supposed to be some black tea in this drink, as well.

The actual three-part composition of this drinks flavor is not readily apparent from the title. In fact, the missing third part is cranberry, which plays a large role, as we shall see shortly. Opening the can, the initial aromas that come to my nose are of rooibos, yet there is an indistinct berry aroma lurking in the background. The first sip, however, reveals that cranberry is going to be the dominant flavor, through and through. In the background of the flavor profile, there is the distinct taste of Monster-flavor, which is hard to describe, except to say that it involves the unique taste of a Monster energy drink, which would differentiate it from, say, a Rockstar energy drink. Simply put, one can tell that there is Monster in the base of this drink.

Equally present in the background of the flavor lies the rooibos. However, compared to how it fits in the aroma, the rooibos seems to fade into obscurity with each sip. The dominant cranberry taste still has the bitter/tart edge to it, much like when drinking cranberry juice, but that edge is slightly tempered by sugar and rooibos. As for the aftertaste of this drink: cranberry-flavored rooibos, definitely. Rooibos has a very distinct aftertaste, which is certainly present, here.

I greatly appreciated that this was a non-carbonated beverage, as I feel that carbonation would have detracted from the flavors, masking them somewhat. The high points of this Monster were definitely the incredibly smooth blend of flavors and its ability to re-hydrate. That which I did not like was the overwhelming amount of cranberry. This was very much a "one and done" drink - I was glad that I tried it, but I would prefer to look to other drinks in the future. As an aside, the name really intrigues me. "Rojo" means "red" in Spanish, yet rooibos most definitely originated in South Africa. Ponder that, if you will!

I hope that you enjoyed the first of these unconventional tea reviews. Let me know your thoughts, as there are bound to be more to come!

Photo credit to

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Tea Review Tuesday - A Review of Tea Forte's Formosa Oolong

Once again utilizing my Tea Forte Cafe Cup, Tea Forte Tea Tray, and Tea Forte Tea Timer iPhone application , I start out steeping this tea for a recommended average of 3 minutes. It may sound like a shameless plug, but their app is great, and the Cafe Cup (with its specially designed lid) is perfect for steeping Tea Forte pyramid infuser bags. The leaves inside the pyramid infuser look very broken up. This worries me a bit, but not being one to judge a tea from its appearance (at least not completely), I wait patiently for the steeping to finish.

The liquor has steeped to a milk-chocolate brown. Nutty smells waft up from the cup. This tea smells quite nutty. In the aroma, there even appears to be some subdued cocoa notes. Taking my first sip, it appears that three minutes was long enough to steep this tea. Perhaps even a bit too long. 

The taste is much smoother than the smell would lead one to believe. Unlike many Formosa oolongs I have tried, this one slips nicely over the tongue, ending in an expressive aftertaste. Robust is a good descriptor for this tea. Oolongs are known to be warming to the body, and this one seems to be the epitome of that factoid. 

My tea time was enjoyable, thanks to this tea. It was a good representation of a decent Formosa oolong. On my personal enjoyment scale, I rate it an 80/100.

Tea Forte's Formosa Oolong is available from their website, here.
This review was unsolicited and uncompensated.

Photo credit to Tea Forte.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Yet Another Writing Sample (YAWS) - Red Inks from Montblanc

Today's writing and ink samples come from a surprise opportunity to sample a number of discontinued Montblanc inks, which are accompanied by some still-available Montblanc inks. The "cookie scented" ink is actually scented with vanilla. Montblanc Bordeaux was the precursor to Montblanc Burgundy Red, and it is no longer available.

(Note: these samples were done with a glass dip pen, which resulted in a great deal of spreading and feathering on this paper, which is from a Field Notes Night Sky notebook.)

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.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Stained Fingers on Thursday - A Review of Montblanc Royal Blue Ink

Following a great trip to my local Montblanc boutique a couple of weeks ago, I wanted to share a review of this pretty blue with all of you!

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, October 8, 2013

Tea Review Tuesday - A Review of Peet's Anniversary Breakfast Blend for 2013

As we enter the fourth quarter for 2013, I figured that I should take the opportunity to share a review of this highly relevant tea: Peet's Anniversary Breakfast Blend for 2013. The blend combines some of the best teas that Peet's has found that year. I have not tried any of the previous anniversary blends, so this one will stand alone, compared only to itself.

As recommended on the packaging, I begin my tea session by steeping a little over a teaspoon of loose leaf in a cup of water, whose temperature is just off boiling. Four minutes later, my tea is done, and I compare all of the aromas. Dry, the malty, tangy aromas were persistent and dominant with some sweet, grassy undertones. Wet, the smell of the leaves is subdued on the malty front, and the sweet, grassy aromas are joined by a sharp wood scent. For some reason, I am reminded of alfalfa.

Four minutes of steeping has produced a cup with bright, chocolate undertones mixed with a malty Assam flavor, barely touched by a bit of sweetness. Without it being much stronger, this tea could easily stand alone as a solid black tea with no need for milk or sugar. The addition of such may bring out more nuances of the tea. The aftertaste contains just the barest hint of bitterness, but any heavy astringency is offset by other flavors. For fans of heavy black teas, this one should definitely be tried. I would rate it an 89/100 on my personal enjoyment scale.

For a limited time, this tea can be purchase from most Peet's Coffee & Tea locations or from their website, here.

This review was unsolicited and uncompensated.
Photo credit to Peet's Coffee & Tea.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Yet Another Writing Sample (YAWS) - A Full Page of Moleskine Ink Tests

Long-time readers of this blog will remember the post from last December in which I bemoaned the behavior of many inks with the paper in Moleskine notebooks. However, as I used that notebook, I did two things: 1) I paid attention to how those inks were behaving across an entire page or pages and 2) I placed an ink sample in the back of the notebook for the sake of comparison.

What I found with #1 was that quality of the paper and the behavior of ink on it would vary from page to page, sometimes even in patches on a single page. While unfortunate, this did change my opinion of the Moleskine paper a bit, and I recall having some great writing sessions with that notebook. The results of #2 are what I present to all of you as today's writing sample:

Hopefully, this scan will help those, who are looking at utilizing a Moleskine notebook with their fountain pens and ink! What have your experiences been with Moleskine and fountain pens? Has it changed your opinion of Moleskine (either for better or worse)?

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.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Stained Fingers on Thursday - A Review of Noodler's American Blue Eel Ink

Here is a pretty blue and the first of Noodler's Eel inks that I have tried.

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, October 1, 2013

Tea Review Tuesday - A Review of Tea Forte's Silk Oolong

This being the first Tea Forte tea that I have tried in quite some time, I decided to go all out. I am using my Tea Forte Cafe Cup, Tea Forte Tea Tray, and the Tea Forte Tea Timer app for iPhone. The instructions, acquired from the application itself recommend 2-4 minutes of steep time. For a happy medium, I choose three, using just-under-boil filtered water.

I have a decent amount of experience with oolong teas. As this tea is steeping, I cannot help but wonder if the tea is being restricted from expansion by the pyramid in which it rests, as most oolongs like this one do a decent amount of unfurling while steeping.

The color of the tea is a brownish yellow; the smells wafting from the cup are smooth, mellow, with perhaps a faint hint of spice. After a couple of small sips, I determine to put the pyramid back into the cup for another minute. The strength is okay but not quite as strong as I like. (If you like your oolongs light and mellow, three minutes will probably suffice.) Another minute, and it is back to tasting. Pleasantly, I can still taste the buttery aftertaste of those couple sips, with hints of vegetal flavor. The taste of this tea reminds me a lot of a Ti Kwan Yin.

In my opinion, four minutes was a prime amount of time for this tea. The flavors are much more full-bodied and literally burst in the mouth. There is a bit of vegetal bite on the sides of the tongue, as with a slightly-oversteeped green tea (like a gunpowder), but this is hardly noticeable, and probably due to my long steep time.

Overall I really enjoyed this tea. It was a very pleasant cuppa, and I do not think I have any complaints with it, other than a bit of lacking in the flavor department. I would perhaps be interested to know if this was due to the pyramid or the tea itself. 85/100 is what I would rate this tea on my personal enjoyment scale.

This tea may be purchased from the Tea Forte website, here.
Photo credit to Tea Forte.
This review was unsolicited and uncompensated.

An Update on the Nock Co. Kickstarter - Day 2 (Fully Funded!)

Wow...I do not think that Brad and Jeff at Nock Co. were ever expecting this kind of a response to their Kickstarter campaign, when it opened, yesterday morning! Within an hour, the $5,000 (US) goal had been met. As of me writing this, the project is 489% 491% funded with $24,498 $24,563...and it still has twenty-nine days to go in the campaign (including today). This has also brought their project onto the Kickstarter homepage, where it will hopefully gain even more publicity.

Well done, Nock Co.! They have created a great product and found a solid demand for it.

In response to many people asking for a standalone reward tier for the Sassafras (the five-pen case), Brad and Jeff have decided to answer the calls of the crowd and provide just that. So, if you have been hesitant about backing this project, because you were unable to get the Sassafras by itself, fear not! For a $15 pledge, you can now back a Sassafras-only reward tier.

A spotlight on the looks of this case with its bi-fold design, five pen or tool slots, and dual flaps to prevent your writing implements (especially the clips) from touching/rubbing/scratching/scraping each other:

It will be available to backers in one of the three color schemes available at launch:

See the Kickstarter page for more details! For those who are backing this project, thank you! I know that Brad and Jeff really appreciate your support. If you are not yet backing Nock Co.'s work, I recommend checking out their Kickstarter page, here. Which case is your favorite?

This post was unsolicited and uncompensated.
Photo credit to Nock Co.