Herbin Lie de The ink review cover image

Ink of the Week – J. Herbin Lie de Thé

John BosleyFountain Pen Ink Leave a Comment

This week we’re going to take a look at J. Herbin Lie de Thé. Similar to S.T. Dupont Royal Blue, this was a “souvenir” ink that I purchased when I was in Paris (although you don’t have to travel to France to get it, as it’s easy to find and purchase regardless of where you live). I had heard good things about it and, since I love brown inks, specifically sought it out. Since buying it, I haven’t used it as much as I thought I would. Let’s see if this review renews my interest in it.

Herbin Lie de The ink review doodles

J. Herbin Lie de Thé

To start, let’s take a look at the ink itself. It’s what I would consider to be a pure-brown ink, unlike some of the previous brownish inks that I’ve reviewed (Montblanc Swan Illusion, Sailor Rikyu-cha, and Sailor Ink Studio 573). From what I can tell, the name, Lie de Thé, literally translates as “dregs of tea”. I’m not sure if it just means “tea” or “tea leaves”, but I think we’ll assume it generally means “tea colored”. I’d agree with that. It has very nice, but not excessive shading.

When exposed to water, this ink does separate out into some oranges and grey/greens. It’s kind of neat! I’m sure some people might enjoy playing with this chromatography. To make it even better, I dabbed a bit on a wet paper towel and got a very intense orange color. I didn’t see it on paper, but I’m sure it could be coaxed out with a little trial and error. It isn’t waterproof, but should at least remain legible if it gets wet.

Herbin Lie de The ink review chromatography

This ink has an interesting chromatography

Herbin Lie de The ink review chromatography 2

On toilet paper, bright oranges really come out of this ink.

Herbin Lie de The ink review waterproof

Even after being exposed to some water, this ink is still fairly legible.

Dry time is pretty average. I felt like I could turn the page fairly quickly after writing with it. It doesn’t have any sheen, so that helps it not smear once it dries. I experienced very little smearing while I was doodling or writing, not really enough to worry about, so that’s good to know if you have any concerns about that.

The Pens I Used

Each week I choose five different pens to fill with the ink I’m testing. My goal is to get a variety of nib sizes and styles, as well as a mix of modern and vintage pens. Here are the pens I chose this week and some writing samples from each:

Herbin Lie de The ink review fountain pens used

The pens I used (L-R): Pelikan M205, Jinhao 599, Jinhao 100, Namiki VP, Lamy Vista

Herbin Lie de The ink review nibs

A look at the nibs (L-R): Pelikan F, Jinhao F, Jinhao M, Namiki B, Lamy OBB

Pelikan M205 – F nib

You might know that I’m not a huge fan of fine nibs, but this fine Pelikan nib pairs very nicely with this ink. To be fair, it’s not that fine compared to some fine nibs. The ink has plenty of color, shows some shading, and is very readable.

Herbin Lie de The ink review fine nib

Writing sample with Pelikan fine nib

Jinhao 599 – F nib

Similar to the Pelikan nib, this Jinhao nib isn’t as fine as other fine nibs. Still, it’s a bit smaller than I typically prefer. I like it better than the Pelikan since it’s wetter and makes this ink look darker. The shading is a bit more subtle, but I think it looks great.

Herbin Lie de The ink review fine nib jinhao

Writing sample with Jinhao fine nib

Jinhao 100 – M nib

Things just keep getting better and better. This Jinhao nib is just a bit broader and wetter than the previous two and I really like the way this ink looks with it. It’s darker and has good shading. This may be the sweet spot for me with this ink.

Herbin Lie de The ink review medium nib

Writing sample with Jinhao medium nib

Namiki Vanishing Point – B nib

I love the broad nib on my Vanishing Point. Not only does it lay down a broad line, but it’s also quite wet. With this ink, it’s almost too wet. I had to write with it for quite a while before the ink flow evened out to a reasonable level and I could see some shading. For doodling, it was too wet for my preference. I would definitely use it in a nib that was a bit drier.

Herbin Lie de The ink review broad nib

Writing sample with Namiki broad nib

Lamy Vista – OBB nib

The OBB nib on this Lamy Vista is on the drier side. This both made the ink appear a bit lighter and also gave it some great shading. While the nib isn’t the most practical to write with, I really like how the ink looks with this pen.

Herbin Lie de The ink review obb nib

Writing sample with Lamy oblique double-broad nib


On cheap copy paper, this ink bled through to the other side with every pen I used. It wasn’t drastic, but it was there. Thankfully, it didn’t feather on the cheap paper. On good paper, I didn’t see any feathering and only saw a tiny bit of bleedthrough on the Leuchtturm paper. Based on these results, I’d avoid using this ink on any paper that is not fountain pen friendly.

Herbin Lie de The ink review leuchtturm

Writing sample on Leuchtturm paper

Herbin Lie de The ink review profolio oasis paper

Writing sample on Profolio Oasis paper

Herbin Lie de The ink review stalogy paper

Writing sample on Stalogy paper

Cleaning The Ink Out Of Pens

I was pleasantly surprised at how easily this ink came out of my pens. Whenever there is an ink that could have some sort of red dye in it I get worried about how difficult it will be to clean out of pens. I didn’t have any issues with the orange in this ink. It is not very saturated either, which typically affects how hard it is to clean. I wouldn’t hesitate to use it in any pen I own.


As I mentioned, I haven’t used my bottle of J. Herbin Lie de Thé very much since I purchased it. I think I got it right around the time when multichromatic inks hit the scene and a “boring” brown ink just didn’t hold my fascination like some of the newer inks did. After using it for a week I realize that I had forgotten just how nice a brown ink can be to write with! The color is fun but still formal. It has enough shading to make it interesting, but not distracting. While I don’t know how often I’ll use it in the future, I have really enjoyed using it this past week.

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