Den's Tea

Recent Tasting Notes

75
drank Sakura Sencha by Den's Tea
482 tasting notes

Another tea from KiwiDelight’s Japanese green sample extravaganza package. It’s a sencha tea with the teensiest cherry blossom buds in it. Cute! The smell is a bit odd… I don’t really smell the sencha, just a strange vinegar scent?

After the tea is brewed, it smells more like a sencha, albeit a mild one. It’s grassy and spinachy in a very light way. There’s a light floral note, and that weird vinegar odor is still there in the background. It tastes similar to the smell – mild grassy sencha with just a wisp of floral taste. I taste vinegar in the back of my mouth at the beginning of the sip – strange but not wholly unpleasant. I asked my boyfriend what he thought, and he said it reminded him of apple cider (what?! weirdo). It seems to me that the floral note is mostly in the aroma.

This was definitely a very delicate tea. I don’t think it lent itself very well to western style – either that or I should have used more leaf. Interesting, but I’m not in love. :P

Flavors: Floral, Grass, Sweet

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 1 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Stephanie

The sakura is basically a salted cherry blossom…that could be the vinegar element you are describing. Did you steep at a low temperature? Just curious :)

Cameron B.

I did it at 180. Kiwi sent me a note with steeping recommendations. :)

KiwiDelight

I thought it would be best to send you Den’s instructions. Personally, I don’t like them because the sencha and sakura come out too bitter. Totally recommend a cold-brew of this.

Stephanie

I LOVE THIS COLD BREWED! And lightly sweetened ;)

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84

This will be even a lamer note than my last. Wasn’t paying tons of attention to this cup of tea because I was working on a new Steampunk gun. But I can at least tell you that it makes a delicious cup of roasty goodness. ^^ So much better than the last Genmaicha I tried! Thanks, Cameron B. for letting me know about the Den’s Tea sampler! I’ll be sad when I can no longer steep this tea bag.

Flavors: Roasted

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85

Sipdown!

Yum, toasted rice! It’s been a while since I’ve had a (traditional) genmaicha. This one is definitely my favorite out of the three I’ve tried. It’s the smoothest and has a lot of yummy toasted rice flavor. I can taste the green tea in the background but it’s not rough or grassy like other genmaichas can be. I still don’t taste the matcha. I don’t feel that I necessarily need a traditional genmaicha in my cupboard right now. I have Laoshan Black Chocolate and I think it about covers my lovely toasted rice tea slot.

I still really need to try that buckwheat tea! I bet it’s just like this but without the green tea flavor at all. OM NOM NOM TOASTED RICE!

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Stephanie

Yeah, buckwheat tea is great!

Stephanie

So is this one :)

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85

Yay this is the last tea from my Den’s novice sampler. Gotta try ‘em all! I was pretty excited for this one since I really liked the tea bag version that was also included. The dry tea is a mixture of long, rough-looking, flat leaves with toasted rice and all of it is coated in matcha. The popped rice visually reminds me of Nerds candy and there was one huge piece that I totally considered eating, and I would have if it hadn’t been covered in matcha. The smell is not nearly as strong as I suspected it would be. It’s a light matcha scent and little hint of hay. I brewed it at 175 degrees for one minute.

The aroma of this tea is fantastic! It’s super toasty-smelling. On a short sniff, I don’t get any other smell. If I take a long sniff, I start to get the vegetal scent at the end. Smelling this tea made my mouth water. When I taste it, I get a lot of toasted rice flavor which is amazing. In the middle of the sip, there’s that slightly spinachy green tea taste along with a slightly sweeter hint from the matcha. The aftertaste is all amazing roastiness with a touch of spinach. This tea is very savory, it’s almost like eating instead of drinking. I love it so much!

Based on this, I think I really need to try some bancha! Sooooooon.

Flavors: Spinach, Toasted Rice, Vegetal

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
TheTeaFairy

Glad to see you are having success with the greens :-)

Cameron B.

Yeah! Thanks for your help with the steeping parameters. :D

Stephanie

This one is great. I loved it from the sampler so much that I ordered more :)

Cameron B.

Yeah I’ll definitely be grabbing some of this with my $3 off coupon. I’m wondering how much this differs from their regular genmaicha since I didn’t taste a ton of matcha.

Stephanie

Tastes similar but this one definitely has more of a caffeine kick! ;)

Cameron B.

Good to know! Thanks Stephanie. :)

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78

Sipdown!

There was definitely a bit more than a teaspoon left, but I decided to use all of it because it didn’t look like enough for two cups. And it doesn’t seem to have come out super strong or anything weird, so I guess more was okay! I am definitely a fan of roasty notes in tea, and this is as roasty as they come. However, the flavor is definitely more “rough” than other similar teas like genmaicha, some blacks, roasted mate, etc. It reminds me of drinking dry autumn leaves. And while I do find it enjoyable, I tend to prefer the softer roasted flavors of the other roasty teas. So I don’t really feel the need to keep a houjicha around at the moment. Still good though, and thanks again for the sampler, Den’s!

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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78

Another tea from my Den’s sampler! The dry tea is medium brown leaves and stems with some broken leaves mixed in. It smells like toasted nuts or grains. Yum, I love toasty teas! I steeped this for two minutes.

The brewed tea smells, unsurprisingly, very toasty. There is also a smell that reminds me of piles of dried leaves in the fall, and a hint of grassiness. I was a little bit surprised that the first thing I tasted with my first sip was bean sprouts. However, this quickly changed to the toasted grains and autumn leaves flavors I was expecting. It’s interesting that there is still a manifestation of green here even though this is obviously heavily roasted. For some reason, this tea made my mouth feel grainy or dusty or something. I wouldn’t really call it astringency but I’m not sure what caused it. Overall, a very tasty tea and I could see this being good with milk. I may try steeping this for longer or with more tea for an even stronger toasty flavor.

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Grain, Toasted Rice

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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85
drank Sencha Shin-ryoku by Den's Tea
482 tasting notes

This is my second loose sencha from my Den’s novice sampler. The loose leaves are long and slender and a beautiful rich green color. They smell very sweet and vegetal, mostly spinach. I brewed a teaspoon of leaves for one minute.

The brewed tea smells similar to the leaves, like sweet steamed spinach. At first sip, I was very surprised by the strength of the brew, even though I only steeped one minute. The same flavors that were in the other sencha are present in this one, but in different amounts. It has the same steamed spinachy flavor but there is much more sweetness here and a strong sweet grass note. The squash is there but less so, and there is no bitterness, there is a sweet aftertaste instead. Overall, this sencha is much stronger in flavor, with a deeper spinach flavor and more sweetness. I think I actually prefer the cheaper version. Maybe I’ll be a bancha kind of person. :P

Flavors: Grass, Spinach, Sweet, Vegetal

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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88

Sipdown! (112)

Aw, I overleafed this a wee bit and it came out somewhat bitter. I guess in the future I should just throw out that awkward amount of leaf that would’ve been left over, since it’s not really worth it ruining my final cup. I first had this tea in my Den’s sampler and then Ost sent me another packet as a bonus sample in a swap. I like it a lot, it’s definitely one of the best senchas I’ve tried so far. Hooray Den’s! :)

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Stephanie

my fave sencha

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88

Yum yum yum. Drinking this with my pizza and it’s so tasty. I actually tried a second infusion this time around (I did 45s compared to 1m for the first) and it’s still delicious. Tastes very similar to the first as far as I can tell, although I’m not sure I trust myself when I’m eating while drinking it. Also, this was my first time using my new Finium brew basket and it’s amazing.

Yay, happy place. Pizza with pepperoni, mushrooms, and olives, and my tasty, tasty sencha. Nothing better!

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Stephanie

my fave sencha

Cameron B.

Mine too, so far. But I’ve only tried two, so that doesn’t really count… Seems to go very well with food! :D

Cameron B.

Stephanie, how many steeps do you usually do with this tea?

Stephanie

Usually just 2 for me :) I’ve tried a 3rd but it is never robust enough for my tastes, and it is so inexpensive I don’t feel bad tossing it after 2!

Cameron B.

I’m trying a third steep right now (1m) and I see what you mean. The spinachy flavor is definitely lighter but I love the sort of “rough” flavor that’s developing. Is that what bancha is like? Honestly, with how inexpensive this tea is, I wouldn’t feel bad at all only doing one steep!

Stephanie

Bancha is way different! It is a lot more roasty in my experience. I know there are lots of different styles of bancha though…

Cameron B.

That sounds right up my alley… I’ve loved genmaicha and houjicha so far so roasty is good! :D Thanks for answering all my questions, lol.

Stephanie

It’s cool I like chatting with folks about tea, lol :)

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88

I got two senchas in my Den’s novice sampler. I decided to try this one first since it’s the… I don’t know whether to say “lower-grade” but it’s the less expensive of the two. I must say, I’m very pleasantly surprised by the volume of these loose samples. There’s enough for at least 3 or 4 cups in here! The dry leaf smells like a mixture of dried and cut grass, but it’s also very sweet and almost creamy-smelling as well. I brewed one teaspoon of leaves for 1 minute.

The aroma of the brewed tea is very distinctly vegetal. I catch mostly scents of steamed spinach and butternut squash with grassy notes blended in. There is still a hint of sweetness. This tea tastes quite vegetal as well – still maintaining that steamed spinach flavor mixed with a nice grassiness. At the end of the sip, there is a pleasant bitterness which mixes very well with a note of butternut squash or pumpkin. I was shocked to find that neither squash nor pumpkin are options when choosing flavors! I did send a suggestion to add these two to the list. Overall, I found this tea quite delicious and I’m glad I have more of it, and I’m excited to try the other variety from Den’s.

Flavors: Grass, Spinach, Vegetal

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
TheTeaFairy

Sounds great :-)

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This is the second tea I elected to try from my Den’s novice sampler. I figured I would get the tea bags out of the way and then get into the loose leaf varieties tomorrow. This also happens to be my first sencha. Like the genmaicha, there were no instructions for western style. The dry bag smelled strongly of grass with a little sweetness. I brewed it for two minutes.

The brewed tea smells vegetal and grassy. The taste is spinach mixed with sweet grass. There’s also a touch of asparagus (the tea bag was covered in quite a bit of powder – I’m not sure whether it was matcha or just powdered sencha leaf). I found this tea satisfying and quite delicious. As it cooled I started to get a slightly bitter note, so the next time I make sencha I’ll be sure to drink it faster.

(holding off on the rating until I can compare it to the loose leaf versions)

On a side note, I would love to get some general advice for steeping these Japanese greens teas western-style. In particular, the ones I have are senchas, genmaicha, and one houjicha. I would really love to just get some general guidelines for temperature and time for steeping these types of teas in 8 ounce quantities. Thanks in advance! :)

Flavors: Asparagus, Grass, Spinach, Vegetal

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
TheTeaFairy

I sent you some instructions :-)

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I recently ordered the green tea sampler for novices from Den’s Tea. I really love that they offer something like this to new customers. It’s only $3 and I got two tea bag samples plus four loose samples plus a booklet. AND they give you a coupon code for $3 off your next order of $15 or more, making the sampler free if you make a purchase later. Fantastic, thanks Den’s!

I’ve been curious about genmaicha for a while now, so this had to be the first one I tried. I actually got both a sachet and a loose sample of this tea, so it’ll be interesting to compare the two. The packet didn’t have brewing instructions and their instructions for genmaicha were tuned for a very small amount of water, so I read through some notes from other people and decided on a two minute steep. The dry sachet smelled mostly of matcha and vegetal green tea and there was quite a bit of matcha dust clinging all over it.

I was amazed by how roasty the brewed tea smelled! It basically smelled like all toasted rice with some of the green tea peeking in from the background. Yum yum! I was so impatient while waiting for this to cool so I could try it! XD I must say, this tea is delicious. It’s an excellent mix of spinachy green tea and asparagus-like matcha with a strong toasted rice flavor in the background, supporting the other flavors. The aftertaste is slightly bitter, but in a pleasant way when combined with the rice. I can’t wait to try all of these other green teas.

(holding off on the rating until I try the loose version!)

Flavors: Asparagus, Bitter, Spinach, Toasted Rice, Vegetal

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
yyz

If you don’t like the bitter tones you might want to try a lower water temperature. I’m not sure if this tea was made with bancha or srncha, but bancha especially turns bitter at higher temps.85°C is about the highest temp I use with green tea, but like everything it’s what ever works for you. Glad you enjoyed your first Genmaicha experience.

Cameron B.

I believe it is bancha (assuming it’s the same as the loose) but I actually did like that little bit of bitterness at the end. I used the high temperature because that was what was recommended for genmaicha by Den’s. I think there’s enough loose leaf for more than one cup, so I’ll try a comparison of temperatures. :)

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drank Grape Sencha by Den's Tea
300 tasting notes

Teeny Tiny TTB

Well I goofed with this one. By the time I realized that the recommended steep time is mere seconds, I had gone over. However, it’s still not too grassy. It’s buttery with a faint grape aroma and taste. Now, if you read my tasting note about Teavana Chateau Blanc, then you’ll know grape isn’t really a favorite of mine. This is nice enough, but it’s a similar type of grape flavor and so I’m not enthused enough to keep it around or buy.

Preparation
1 tsp

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78

This is a tea I’ve had a very long time and haven’t tried. I’m finding that I’m leaning more towards unflavored teas, so I wanted to try out some of the ones I had in my stash. I’m using office water to make this one, so these are all at 165.

Attempt 1: Since I only have 165 degree water, I have to search around a bit to get the right time. This one was two minutes. I can get some roastiness out of this but not much. The color was a light and looked weak. I’ll get some new leaves and try 30 seconds longer

Attempt 2: This one is 2 minutes and 30 seconds. The roast flavor seems more full, and I think I can get some of the actual tea flavor now. It’s also brewed up a very nice light amber color. I’ll try three minutes and see how that is, but I’m thinking this might be the winner

Attempt 3: This one was for three minutes. It seems to somehow have traded roast flavor for tea flavor. While this isn’t bad, I prefer the stronger roasted notes personally.

Preparation
165 °F / 73 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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82

This is pretty good, but it just tastes like regular (but high-quality) sencha to me. It’s very vegetal—even the dry leaf smells like cooked spinach, and once steeped the flavor is more of the same. I think it might be little more finicky than good non-first flush senchas I’ve tried; it seems to go bitter pretty easily. I’m glad to have tried this, since I was curious what all the fuss was about, but I don’t think I’m a sensitive enough taster to appreciate its nuances.

Stephanie

It is quite finicky

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drank Apple Sencha by Den's Tea
300 tasting notes

Teeny Tiny TTB

This is a tasty green tea, not too vegetal, slightly buttery, even. I’m getting a faint bit of apple (which became more pronounced when I added a little bit of sweetener). This is good, but I definitely enjoyed the green tea I had yesterday more. I certainly wouldn’t turn down another cup, but I’m not sure it’s special enough to stock.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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90
drank Shincha Kunpu by Den's Tea
2397 tasting notes

Second green tea of the morning here; evidently my plans for the day include getting all wired up on Japanese green teas.

I got this as a 1 oz. sampler pack along with the Shincha Houryoku. Of the two, I think the Houryoku is my favorite. the Kunpu is definitely lighter in color and in flavor and doesn’t have the longer steaming. In color it’s a light yellowish-green.

The flavor of this is very tender and light. It reminds me of gentle cooked vegetables like peas. Some Japanese greens have a more bitter green quality or that of seaweed. This shincha is more on the mild side with a bit of butteriness present and only a bit of astringency.

If you don’t like senchas that are assertive or bitter, you should check out these shinchas from Den’s. I’m really glad I bought them both this year! The package says they are best by February 2015 — I believe I can drink them both in this time frame.

Flavors: Peas

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 1 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 4 OZ / 118 ML

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drank Shincha Kunpu 2014 by Den's Tea
102 tasting notes

Ah Spring. (Well, if it ever arrive here in Maine).

And this is one of the most anticipated releases of the season. Always amazing, this refined vegetable broth with its dynamic green color and briny base is one of the best teas in the world, IMHO. It’s also an incredible mood-booster, with astronomical amounts of theanine. Scoop it up before it disappears.

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 2 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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drank Sencha Zuiko by Den's Tea
123 tasting notes

Alas, I am beginning to think my taste in green tea is woefully plebeian.

This was in my novice sampler from Den’s. I was pleased to find a strong almond scent in the leaves from the 1st steep, but it was not present in aroma of liquid. First sips revealed no sweetness at all. It was bitter, even sour. And very grassy, not in a good way. I suspect I am not cooling the water sufficiently before steeping.

So I did the 2nd steep with water I had poured back and forth about 8 times in an attempt to cool it to a much lower temperature, and steeped it about 90 sec. This time I got the sweet almond scent both from the leaves and from the aroma of the tea. Before tasting, I let it cool almost to lukewarm. Results: still bitter, the flavor more floral than green.

I have about one more trial of dry leaves on this one, so no numerical rating yet.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 1 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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85

First experience with sencha, from Den’s Sampler for Novices. On a hunch, after reading the Q&A comment that Den likes to leave teabags in the cup, so did I.

I was surprised to find this so smooth, no astringency or bitterness at all. There was a whiff of flowery aftertaste when it cooled, gone very quickly. I was not expecting to like this, but I did enjoy it and might buy it again for the convenience.

Looking forward now to the other two sencha samples included in the package.

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML
TeaBrat

Den’s is awesome!

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66

Got this in a sampler. I am on the hunt for a genmaicha I can enjoy (toasty but not burned) and not easily mess up (bitter due to oversteeping) but have never tried a blend of genmaicha and matcha. Nor, for that matter, have I ever tried matcha alone! I am a real newbie at green teas. So I really wasn’t sure what to expect.

I love the aroma — very warm and nutty. I’m getting a little bitterness so I may have oversteeped yet again. Like others here, I was working under a best-guess theory based on the loose tea recommendations. The bitterness seems to lessen as the tea cools, or perhaps simply as I get closer to the bottom of the cup (see below re: matcha settling.)

There is more dust than I expected to see in the bottom of the cup. I drained the cup in my final sips and there was no grittiness but there does remain a slight slippery, buttery feel in my mouth that’s actually more interesting than the sipping experience itself so the dust must be primarily matcha that settled.

I plan to try a second steeping and check it after 30 seconds. I guess most of the matcha will have washed out in the first experiment. Later today I’ll try the loose leaf sample.

Probably will not buy this in bags again, but it would be convenient in a pinch and if one knew what to expect ahead of time.

UPDATE: Second steeping.

Well, this is interesting! I poured the boiling water back and forth only once this time so the temperature was probably a bit higher. I sniffed the brew after 30 seconds and decided to go for a bit longer as well. Probably ended up with between 45-60 second on this steep. No bitterness!

It is, as I expected, a bit weaker. I am still seeing a bit of dust at the bottom of the cup. With about 1/2 the liquid gone, and noticing a faint sweetness at the back of my mouth, I swirled the cup to distribute the dust (matcha?) more evenly. Yep, that buttery sensation, more than a real taste, is back with the final two swallows. The toasty flavor disappears quickly, leaving behind an aftertaste only slightly bitter, more like another type of green (kale? collards?) than spinach.

Don’t think I’ll try a third steep, but even more curious now about the loose tea.

Flavors: Butter, Pecan, Spinach, Toasted Rice, Toasty

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 45 sec 1 tsp 4 OZ / 118 ML

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98
drank Shincha Houryoku by Den's Tea
2397 tasting notes

This shincha came from my latest Den’s tea order and is from the 2014 season.

This stuff is amazing! For one thing the color of the tea brews up to be a brilliant emerald green color and is vibrant. The flavor is very mellow and sweet with a hint of grassiness. Evidently this was produced with some extra steaming which accounts for the color and the flavor. They call this herbaceous but there’s almost something creamy about it in my opinion. Definitely glad I got this one, it’s one of the better senchas I’ve had.

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 1 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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drank Karigane Houjicha by Den's Tea
218 tasting notes

I had a sample of this and I decided to make this iced. I don’t know why. I usually avoid trying teas for the first time iced.

This awesome-“leafed” tea has an unmistakable roasty flavor that reminds me of roasted rice in genmaicha and I think it would work great hot but as an iced tea it seems that its most characteristic features were a little jarring. Especially at first. When I have iced tea, it means I’m either driving to work, am at work, or driving back from work, so I don’t pay that much attention to the flavors but with this one I kind of… had to. So roasty!

I still have about 1 serving of this left and I am definitely going to try it hot!

Preparation
Iced 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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95
drank Pineapple Sencha by Den's Tea
2397 tasting notes

Just a note to say this is really good when it’s cold brewed. Also good when it’s hot! I don’t recall having such a nice pineapple flavored tea, ever. The few pineapple oolongs I’ve had were good, but I like this even more.

I’ve been craving green tea lately. I feel like I could drink a gallon of it every day if it didn’t get me a little too wired.

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more
Stephanie

Heck yes it is good cold brewed! :)

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