Review: Sailor Rikyu-Cha

Sailor is one of the biggest fountain pen manufacturers in Japan, specificallly one of the big three: Pilot, Platinum and Sailor. History says that it was founded by Mr Kyoguro Sakata after an English sailor introduced him to fountain pens, most probably of English origin. This is probably where the company got it’s name from.

Sailor is a special company in the fountain pen world, with special pens and very special nibs. Apart from fountain pens, Sailor manufactures inks and every year the company presents limited editions, which are usually very successful and sought-after.

Jentle Four Seasons Rikyu-Cha

Sailor’s inks are called Jentle and there is a special release titles Four Seasons, inspired by the colours of the four seasons in Japan. Every year, Sailor creates special inks which are usually manufactured once, i.e. for a single season.

Rikyu-Cha is a relatively rare ink: it was launched during fall 2015 and as expected, it was sold out very soon after. Since then, it is sold in shops that have adequate stock, but there are  online auctions that offer the ink at 3-4 times its normal price. Due to high demand, Sailor restarted manufacturing it and the new version has hit the market during October 2016, which will hopefully make it easier to find.

Rikyu-cha translates as Olive-green, meaning the green colour of the olive tree. It really represents what it says on the tin, especially as we Greeks know it: from the greek of the olive-leaf to the brown of the olive bark.


The ink comes in a glass jar of 50ml, which has an internal reservoir to fill a fountain pen even when the ink level is low in the jar.


The following illustration describes the internal reservoir.

Πηγή: La Courone du Comte

The glass jar represents Japanese culture at its finest: effective, elegant and most importantly, practical. It is one of the most elegant jar for fountain pen inks.


It is no wonder that most people that have tried this ink, have bought a second jar immediatelly. Apart from being a limited release, it is one of the most special and interesting inks in the market.

When you first write with this ink, a deep-green colour appears in paper, something between olive-green and brown. But when it dries, it transforms something between the olive leaf colour and the tree bark, much lighter than in its wet form. It is surely unique and as far as I know, no other similar ink is currently being sold.


It is also nearly impossible to capture the true colour of the ink on a photograph!

Performance on paper

Rikyu-cha is not a moody ink, but its colour and properties do give it a special behaviour on paper. In high quality, smooth paper (e.g. Rhodia, Tomoe River), the ink really shines. It does not bleed or feather in good paper.

In plain paper, its behavior changes and bleeds and feathers. In the test page shown below, the ink drop went through the paper and stained my wooden desk (permanently). However, it is not a permanent ink.

Mechanical properties

Rikyu-cha is excellent in terms of properties – Sailor manufactured it to have good lubrication, flow and behaviour in its fountain pens. I believe I have seen very tiny particles in the fountain pen converter wall but I have never experienced any problem in any of my pens with this ink.

The ink is not waterproof, but it does resist water to a certain extent.


If you ever come across this ink in a shop, buy it without second thought. It really describes the olive tree as we Greeks know it. In good paper, with a wet nib, it will reward you and you will seek excuses to write with it!


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