Changes at Panera

Not too long ago I was very high on Panera’s iced tea. They were close to, if not my number one choice for fast food iced tea. The only way I could describe their tea is that it has a strong, unique but pleasant flavor, that I really enjoyed. The taste was also very consistent from one visit to the next. Since that review, there have been some changes with their iced tea, which has forced me to reevaluate that review.

Panera stopped using the stainless steel dispensers to hold their tea and started using clear plastic dispensers that continuously cycle the tea through a little fountain near the back of the container. I have seen these types of dispensers in other restaurants to hold lemonade or fruit juices, but this is the first time I had seen one to hold tea. I don’t know if they changed the tea brewing process as well, but their black tea doesn’t seem to taste quite as good as it did before. The most noticeable change (at least at the two locations I have visited since this change) is that the tea tastes weaker than it did before this change. I have also noticed the taste is less consistent than it was prior and also more likely to be tainted with the taste of the other flavored teas they offer.

All this has dropped my rating of Panera’s iced tea from a perfect rating to a 4 out of 5. And it also goes to prove my point that the best tasting iced tea (like In-n-out, Chipotle, etc) is always served from a stainless steel container.

9 Comments Add yours

  1. anonymous says:

    I’m a regular Panera customer and used to stop in for an iced tea almost every day. Recently, the black iced tea seems to have changed and does not have the same flavor as before? Did Panera change the tea and/or brewing process?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Panera is definitely no long my “go to” for iced tea. I am not positive if they actually changed their brewing process, but changing from a stainless steel container to a plastic one can affect the taste. Check back and I will try to get more information on this.

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  2. Iced Tea Lover says:

    I noticed the same thing and I completely agree that it used to be a 5 but I would now give it a 3 because it tastes very weak and is not very good, in my opinion 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The Chi says:

    I am also disappointed in the change at Panera with their black iced tea. I used to go 3-4 times a week basically for the tea and breakfast sandwich, and I am now looking for a new spot.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Gail says:

    11/17
    I completely agree with your post. The change in flavor(sometimes very bitter) and inconsistency in taste may be due to the fact that it is now prepared in advance and put in refrigerators before serving. Previously, the tea was literally brewing in the stainless container and dispensing into the cup still warm. You can’t get any fresher ice tea than that!! I miss the old tea. As a daily panera customer, I would love the return of the brewing on site for its black tea. And, please, bring back the classical music!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah that is a good point about being brewed in advanced. Luckily there is a Chipotle for me to get my iced tea fix. But obviously not the same atmosphere as Panera.

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  5. Ian says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more, and I think giving Panera 4 out of 5 stars is too generous with the change in the quality of the tea. I noticed it with the move to the plastic dispensers as well, but it almost seems like the tea itself changed too. I’ve encountered what I only know to describe as a “chemical” taste to it sometimes and I have to wonder if that comes from the dispensers, such as if they were cleaned with a solution and not rinsed fully before being stocked with tea. But the tea is weaker and just doesn’t taste much like iced tea to me. It’s really a shame because I’ve cut my trips to Panera more than in half since the change because I primarily went for iced tea and a good place to work on my computer. I have lately been opting for a place like Zoe’s Kitchen or Newk’s for better iced tea.

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  6. Lana R. says:

    I also agree. Panera has destroyed the best iced tea ever. I was addicted just as people need their daily coffee fix, mine was fresh brewed Panera iced tea. What they serve now is a lazy version. No need to clean the big brewing machine which was always neglected and hardly ever cleaned properly. My guess is this is the reasoning behind the change. I think I’ll try Chipolte. But I really miss Panera and not only their tea. They’ve changed the food and it is no longer my go to place to eat. Sorry Panera you’ve ruined your own brand.

    Liked by 1 person

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