J. Herbin – Lie de Thé

I am not a big enthusiast of brown inks for writing as such, possibly because I never found one which really fits my taste and looks good on the paper as a written text. From the second hand, I quite like all types if browns, sepias, etc for wet brush painting and for some time I was looking for one which I could use for drawing and washes. I am using another J. Herbin ink called Cafe des Iles which is quite dark brown and I also like a lot Noodler’s Walnut ink which has nice dark but still warm brown colour. Monteverde Brown is not bad either.  Because I had a sample of Lie de Thé on my shelf for  a while finally I decided to give it a go and see what it can do, especially when I already heard many good things about this ink.

Ok, so what I found interesting about this ink? Well, there is quite few things. First of all Lie de Thé  inks has pretty, rich warm brown colour which may look quite different depending on paper you write. It supposed to remind oriental brown tee and to some extent it does, especially if you think about freshly brewed intense tee in white porcelain cup which has this orange-brown warm feel. Many brown inks I tried looks nice when are wet, but once they dry out the colour is getting less vivid and flat.  Lie de Thé looks lively when it dries. Surely, this is caused  by quite significant amount of orange tones present in the formula. The whole thing looks like brave mixture of orange with darker grey which is possibly the main component. This is is especially visible on extremely absorbing  tissue after water chromatography test. There are also quite prominent yellow hues and some lavender/lilac like hints too. Grey and orange give also a little murky green feel as well. Very interesting colour combination indeed, which actually works and it works very well.

This peculiar tonal mixture is leads to one very cool feature which is absolutely wonderful shading which Lie de Thé can deliver. The colour gradation varies from very rich and very saturated dark brown (with semi flex nibs) towards yellow/golden-brown especially on up strokes. Shading greatly depends on pen/nib and of course with finer/ dryer nibs it will not be that extreme and definitely lighter. Broad and italic nibs possibly give an ultimate shading experience. Paper type plays important role here. With smooth Rhodia like paper, you will not be disappointed.

J. HerbinLie de Thé  is fairly wet ink and flows very well. J. Herbin inks have reputation of being rather on the drier side in  general, but Lie de Thé  is definitely not. Saying that drying time is not bad though. With wet pens which tends to put saturated line Lie de Thé may smudge a little on smooth paper, so give it an extra time.  In general it does not feather and is not bleeding through on decent paper but on lesser quality or more absorbing paper it may happen.

Another interesting feature Lie de Thé has is how it behaves when treated with water. The orange component is easy to be washed away, however grey stays on paper. It looks that grey component is binding better with cellulose, which reminiscences behaviour of  iron gall inks.

J. HerbinLie de Thé is ery useful for drawing. Because the colour intensity varies a lot with sensible pen it can be very useful for drawing as one colour only. When you add  water washes you will get a beautifully warm tonal range which is great.

Personally, I am very impressed by this ink and I will keep in one of my pens for doodles and calligraphy.

J. HerbinLie de Thé is widely available from most fountain pen and inks retailers around. It is available as 30 ml bottles or aluminium tin containing  6 small cartridges. There is also a 100 ml bottled version which I would like to get. The problem with 30 ml bottle is that once is half way through, then is very difficult to fully ink the pen, especially large pen. 30 ml bottle looks cute, but is a little impractical. The 100 ml is much simpler and probably mych easiet to use…and has more ink too.


The free of charge sample of J. HerbinLie de Thé has been kingly supplied by BurauDirect, UK.


(*) Disclaimer/ I have no affiliation with the all brands and companies mentioned above and this short review reflects only my personal views and findings about the product.