July 28, 2014

Platinum Pro-Use Drafting Pencil

I acquired yet another mechanical drafting pencil. I really had a moment of weakness here. I don't even use pencils that often, and I certainly didn't need a new one. That said, I have no regret or buyer's remorse because the Platinum Pro-Use is super cool. Just look at the thing:

I don't remember how much I paid, but the Internet tells me that this pencil is now going for about 15 dollars. That's a lot for a pencil, but the Pro-Use is very well made and sturdy, and the fit and finish is great. I opted for the 0.5 mm size (0.3 mm and 0.7 mm sizes are also available), which has become my standard lead size. Platinum is nice enough to provide a big fat lead size reminder on the tail cap:

Although Platinum probably has a better reputation for its fountain pens, I'm impressed here. I really like the brushed metal finish of this pencil, and the overall "look, I'm a rocket ship" design aesthetic. The grip is fat and meaty, and it features some groovy channels that wick away your sweat during those aggressive penciling sessions. If I'm honest, I think that the grip section ought to be a little longer (extending further up the body). Other than that, I have no complaints. The pencil is well balanced, not too heavy and not too light, and it has a lead hardness indicator above the grip section. I assume that this is important to people who pencil for a living.

Even though I don't use this writing instrument that much - perhaps only two pieces of lead so far - I still recommend it highly. If you are a fan of mechanical or drafting pencils and/or you collect shiny metal objects, then check out the Platinum Pro-Use.

July 5, 2014

Sencha Fukamushi Super Premium (From Hibiki-An)

I recently acquired some Japanese green tea from the online retailer Hibiki-An. I don't work for them and they do not sponsor me or give me any kickbacks (although I'd be happy to receive money, tea, or some of their ridiculously expensive matcha bowls as a token of appreciation). I believe that Hibiki-An grows, processes, and sells their tea; unlike other online vendors that may simply serve as distributors. Anyway, I got a bag of their Sencha Fukamushi Super Premium. I like this tea.

Fukamushi is a type of sencha that is subjected to longer/deeper steaming during the processing of the tea leaves. This results in smaller pieces of tea in the final product, which in turn results in a sweeter and more "full bodied" taste relative to regular sencha. You can see some of the fine particles of tea dust in the following picture.

The back of the package includes Hibiki-An's preferred brewing recipe. You can customize the flavor of the tea by varying the amount of tea and water, the water temperature, and the brewing time. I don't have a special fukamushi brewing vessel; I use my standard kyusu, which probably isn't ideal because the strainer doesn't catch all of the tea particles during the pour.

I won't try to describe the flavor profile in detail, because the taste can vary from day to day depending on how I brew the tea. Generally speaking, I would say that the tea is balanced with a slightly sweet aftertaste. Not bitter, and not too "grassy" or "veggie" tasting. In view of its relatively high price, however, I'd hesitate to buy this tea again. That said, I would gladly accept a free bag or lifetime supply from Hibiki-An if they decide to sponsor me.