J. Herbin - Lie de Thé
La Société Herbin, Maître Cirier à Paris, was established in 1670. This makes J. Herbin probably the oldest name among European ink makers. Today, Herbin produces a range of beautiful fountain pen and calligraphy inks, writing instruments, gift sets and accessories. Herbin inks are made in France, and the finishing touches on the bottles are still done by hand in Paris.
J. Herbin is probably best known for their inks in the "La Perle des Encres" series. In this review, the spotlight shines on one of the stars in this line-up: the gorgeous golden-brown Lie de Thé. This ink immediately grabs the attention with its wonderful colour - a golden brown with yellow-orange undertones. This is a soft brown with tons of character and a tremendous colour range, ranging from a whispy sepia-tone to almost black-brown when fully saturated. The ink looks great on most paper types (Moleskine excepted), and exhibits elegant shading without too much contrast between the light and darker parts. J.Herbin truly scored a winner with this one.
The ink has quite satisfactory lubrication, even in drier pens like my Lamy Safari. With wetter pens like my Pelikan Smoky Quartz with B-nib, the ink leaves a very saturated brown line, and loses a bit of its golden qualities. To illustrate the broad colour span of Lie de Thé, I did a swab on Tomoe River paper where I really saturated portions of the paper with ink. This beautifully illustrates the ink's broad colour range. This J. Herbin ink moves effortlessly from a very light sepia to a very dark, almost black brown.
On the smudge test - rubbing text with a moist Q-tip cotton swab - the ink behaved perfectly, with only minimal smearing. Water resistance is amazing - the ink effortlessly survived even longer exposures to water. Really well executed! This is also apparent from the lower part of the chromatography, which shows that the grey components of the ink remain on the paper. If you need a water-resistant ink, Lie de Thé certainly fits the bill. This is an ink that will be at home in the workplace.
Lie de Thé dries relatively fast on more absorbent papers (5-10 second range), but takes significantly longer on less absorbent paper. On Tomoe River e.g. the drying time is about 25 seconds with my relatively dry Lamy Safari with M-nib. I've tested the ink on a wide variety of paper - from crappy Moleskine to high-end Tomoe River. On each scrap of paper I show you:
- An ink swab, made with a cotton Q-tip
- 1-2-3 pass swab, to show increasing saturation
- An ink scribble made with a Lamy Safari M-nib fountain pen
- The name of the paper used, written with a Lamy Safari B-nib
- A small text sample, written with an M-nib
- Drying times of the ink on the paper (with the M-nib)
Lie de Thé looks great on both white and more yellowish paper. I didn't detect any noticeable feathering, not even on the notoriously bad Moleskine paper. With Moleskine paper, there is however significant show-through and bleed-through - not unexpected for this fountain-pen unfriendly paper.
Writing with different nib sizes
The picture below shows the effect of nib sizes on the writing. All samples were written with a Lamy Safari, which is typically a dry pen. I also added a visiting pen - my very wet Pelikan M200 Smoky Quartz with a B-nib. Here the ink leaves a very saturated line, which leans towards black-brown, unfortunately taking away some of the golden-brown beauty that appears with less wet pens.
To compare Lie de Thé with related inks, I use a nine-grid format with the currently reviewed ink at the center. This format shows the name of related inks, a saturation sample, a 1-2-3 swab and a water resistance test - all in a very compact format. I hope that you'll find this way of presenting related inks useful. It's a bit more work, but in my opinion worth the effort for the extra information you gain.
Inkxperiment – Autumn Village
As a personal challenge, I try to create interesting drawings using only the ink I'm reviewing. I find this to be a fun extension of the hobby, and these single-ink drawings often present a real challenge. It also gives you an idea of what the ink is capable of in a more artistic setting. For this abstract autumn village, I got my inspiration from some pics I found on Pinterest. The drawing was done on 200 gsm cold-pressed watercolour paper. To create the different tones in the picture, I used different ink-water ratios (from 1:20 for the really light parts, to 1:2 for the darker parts). The rooftops were done with pure Lie de Thé. The end result gives you a good idea of what Lie de Thé is capable of in a more artistic setting.
J. Herbin Lie de Thé is a gorgeous golden-brown ink, that pleasantly surprised me on all fronts: a beautiful colour, great shading, good saturation - and all this even in finer nibs. The ink also has great water resistance, which is a plus if you want to use it in the workplace. This is an ink that deserves a place in anybody's ink collection - recommended!
Technical test results on Rhodia N° 16 notepad paper, written with Lamy Safari, M-nib
Backside of writing samples on different paper types