• A Fleeting Ripple

tea time: diamine earl grey

The wind rages outside as the windows shake and a slight breeze curls around your arms. There’s going to be another storm, a tradeoff for the good weather of the past week. You try to find a thicker coat, most of them are pushed deep into your closet from not being reached for. The rain starts to splatter on the windows, at first a drizzle, but then raging with the wind. Your boots have been kicked under the sofa too. You fish them out, hoping they’ll hold in this rain. A thermos waits to be grabbed on the kitchen counter, the steam catching the breeze that escapes from the windows. Keys, phone, wallet, bag. You step out to the storm.

I didn’t used to like grey inks because I had a misconception of them being faded and hard to read. My preferred papers are lined ones, and sometimes the lines are quite prominent on the page, therefore perhaps my fear of illegibility was not unfounded at first. Another factor that might’ve contributed to me avoiding grey inks was that I used to colour-code my notes in high school as this: thick colourful pen for headings, black gel pen for writing the questions and the texts and a pencil to solve the questions. Grey always reminded me of answering questions and mandatory pencil use in exams. Pencils were disposable enough that I wouldn’t have minded going through a full lead in a mechanical pencil or a whole wood case pencil in a day.

One of the reasons why I decided to give grey inks a go is mnmnlscholar’s wonderful blog. He tends to use grey inks in fine nibs and I started to warm up to the idea. “Earl Grey” seemed to be my choice, it’s on the darker side of greys and I appreciate puns greatly. Also, I drink tea a lot, and one of my favourites is the Louvre Earl Grey blend from Paleis des Thés. Right after I bought this ink, one of my penpals wrote her letter to me in Earl Grey -yes, we do share a love of teas- and that pushed me over the edge to ink it up. I chose the Leonardo Momento Zero in Jade, with a fine nib. Unfortunately I have been pretty unlucky with Leonardo nibs, but this one writes nicely, albeit a much thinner line than I’d expect from a Western fine nib.

Without further ado, let me start to actually talk -write?- about the ink. Due to the poor association of graphite and grey in my mind, I was expecting a dry, bland ink. I was very pleasantly surprised. First the ink comes out a mid-toned grey without additional undertones, a colour somewhat similar to 2B graphite lead that I like to use. That resemblance fades quickly as the ink dries and the undertones blossom. The colour shifts to a grey with purple undertones, somewhat similar to Robert Oster Summer Storm, but much less purple and much more grey. With the fine nib that writes almost like an extra fine, the ink still shades, but shading is mostly limited to the end of loops where you lift your pen and the ink pools.

One thing to be careful about with this ink is that it seems to be sensitive to the colour of the paper. On cream or slightly yellower paper, the ink appears with much more purple-red undertones, almost a grey-maroon. On stark white paper, purple is much less pronounced and becomes a part of the main grey colour of the ink. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing, as I enjoy its shifting personality immensely. It’s a bit of a surprise how it will look on the new paper you’re trying out.

The flow is fine, not particularly wet or dry, but doesn’t give any problems on smooth or slightly toothier paper. What I’m really happy about is its resistance to feathering or absorption of the paper. My current journal has a fibrous, highly absorbent paper that inks tend to feather, especially where the ink pools at the bottoms of the letters. And the structure of the paper lends itself to small variations in the ink where the nib catches and leaves tiny tiny dark spots in the line that I’m writing. The letters’ edges are never sharp, but jagged. This ink & pen combination managed to resist most of those. It leaves the clearest lines and the feathering where ink pools is so much less than any of my other pens.

Overall, my first grey ink was a roaring success! I am already in the market for another one, I’m eyeing the Montblanc Oyster Grey. I feel like my new combination for lecture notes can be grey and blue black. Even though the amount of lectures I’m sitting through is declining, I am still writing a lot. All of my pens are still seeing daily use… Okay maybe not all 12 currently inked ones…

Thank you for reading!