Review: J. Herbin Lie de Thé Fountain Pen Ink

This review is by Kalina Wilson, who can also be found at

Not long ago I started exploring brown pen options in the post Brown Pen Battle. Now I add for consideration a fountain pen option:  J. Herbin's Lie de Thé (Tea Brown) ink.

Liedethe swatch

J. Herbin offers some gorgeous, brilliant, and intriguing colors, and Lie de Thé is no exception.  I found it to be a very pleasing brown tone that seems to dance between all its constituent colors so that sometimes I see more green or yellow in it and sometimes red.  The above strokes were made with a brush;  I've also loaded the ink into my Pilot Penmanship and Hero M86 Chinese Calligraphy Pen, shown here with a couple of comparison colors.

Of course, the J. Herbin inks are not waterproof, and therefore are not going to be ideal for all uses. Still, oh man, what a lovely color.  

My only other brown-ish ink right now is Noodler's Antietam, which is actually more of a red than a brown. It's an extremely beautiful color that I've tried to use as if it were brown but the red can easily overwhelm a drawing or clash with watercolors that get added later. This J. Herbin brown, on the other hand, is beautifully balanced.  It works great as a brown that can play nice with most other colors, adding rather than competing.  It doesn't demand the spotlight but it's willing to step up when needed. 


Sketchcrawl-Schnitzer1 Here you can see that the color works gorgeously both for line and with added water. There is no watercolor used in this drawing - just the Lie de Thé and a waterbrush, along with a gray brush pen for the distant buildings (see my next review, up soon.)  

There are so many beautiful colors of ink to use, but a well-balanced brown gets special points for versatility.  This ink is gorgeous on buff paper and white, with water and without, with added colors or on its own. If you're looking for a water soluble brown ink to sketch with, that will work for a lot of subjects and a variety of styles, the Lie de Thé will not disappoint.



Posted on January 24, 2011 and filed under Geminica, Ink Review, Ink Test, J. Herbin, Pilot.