review: skb tea amber (茶珀) - ink between the teeth

May 7, 2018

review: skb tea amber (茶珀)

Taking a look at a Taiwanese ink today! I've scattered the Taiwan-exclusive inks over the next few months, and we'll start here with SKB.

SKB is a Taiwanese stationery manufacturer that makes things like ballpoint pens, glue, that kind of thing. They also have a line of fountain pens that range from the starter to nicely high-end (by high-end here I mean, of course, around USD$100).

I own the smaller size of SKB Tea Amber, which comes in a 25ml glass bottle. It's flat and quite small, so you'll likely have to move it to something like a sample vial eventually. The lid is a thin sort of metal, like Rohrer & Klingner caps, and I don't really like them; they don't seem to get a good seal, and they feel a bit flimsy. Both my bottles leaked on their flight back from Taiwan, though luckily not too much (and I also packed all my bottles in Ziploc bags). SKB inks come with a paper seal on the top of the opening, which you'll have to peel off to access the inky goodness inside. Supposedly, that should have kept the ink inside, but I'm a very impatient person and happily ripped off those seals the moment I purchased my spoils.

There is a larger size, which gives you a whopping 5ml more in a bottle. You're right if you think this is silly. They're of higher quality though, sort of like the 15ml Pilot Iroshizuku bottles. There are also two other colors that are only in this size: a sky blue called Thin Clouds (薄雲) and Cherry Snow (櫻雪), a soft pink.

Tea Amber is a... well, I wish I knew how to describe this color. I suppose it's a bit like a dark khaki? But not really, because it's a bit deeper and has a little more warmth to it. Is it supposed to look like, say, the Taiwanese culinary invention, milk tea? Perhaps, but milk tea is a creamier beige color. I mean, the name is "tea amber," so my assumption is that it's supposed to look like a cup of tea. Whether or not it does is up to interpretation, I'm sure.
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This scan is actually pretty close, but I went ahead and took a picture of it on Midori MD paper, and of course it's not quite right either. Between the two of these, we get pretty close to the true color of this ink. It's a bit more golden than the scan, and lighter than the picture. It's tough to capture!
This ink has a surprising amount of water resistance. As you can see, the deeper brown color gets washed away, but there's a light, almost orange core that hangs behind. You'll definitely be able to salvage most of your writing if you get caught in a rainstorm.

Tea Amber took more than 60 seconds to dry on Midori MD paper, and I would say that's about right on Tomoe River paper. It's a wet ink. Long dry times are going to be a thing. On the bright side, it shades a little but in a very pretty way. There's a light, silver sheen as well. It's really only there on more saturated areas, so I can't call it a sheening ink.
I really only have one brown-ish ink in my collection, and it's Pilot Iroshizuku Ina-ho. Surprisingly, I think they're a lot closer than you might expect. Ina-ho is more yellow-golden, while Tea Amber is more orange-brown.

Can I tell you that I love this ink? Because I really, really do. I love Ina-ho, and Tea Amber is kind of like a more orange-brown version of it, and if you know my... enjoyment of orange-brown inks, then of course I adore it. Paired with my TWSBI Diamond 540 with a broad nib, they're a match made in heaven. Smooth, wet flow that writes immediately with no issues.

I hate that I'm gushing about this ink, because—well, if you don't live in Taiwan, you probably can't  buy it unless it's through something like a proxy service. It's an inexpensive ink that performs very well. I honestly may need to find a way to pick up a second bottle, because I can see this little 25ml bottle going quick.

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