Talbos: Potent Sweet Potato Leaves
Highly Ignored Power Veg
In deep Asia (that part of Asia where deep eastern wisdom is sourced), some folks call it “talbos ng kamote.” In America, it’s simply sweet potato leaves or Yam leaves. Talbos or sweet potato leaves is a highly nutritious green leafy vegetable abundant in the tropics and often underrated as poor man’s veggie. But really, it’s a powerful herbal wellness plant.
It is actually more of a vegetable than an herb. But sweet potato leaves are classified as herbaceous perennial vines, with heart shaped (sometimes long and pointed) green leaves with medium-size sympetalous flowers. Well, most types are green leafy, but there are other deep or bright colored varieties. Though more tropical, this plant can be grown almost anywhere.
So Easy to Plant and Manage
I think this is the easiest herb or veggie to plant and manage. It easily grows in any garden—it even grows by itself like wild grass does. Just take a few cut stems and plant into soft soil, water a little daily, and that’s it. They spread as a vine or shrub and even grow new roots that bulge underground into a root crop—sweet potato. The crop is popular, but little is known about the sweet potato leaves. They’re best grown on the side of mountains or hills.
The sweet potato leaves are rich in Vitamin A (ideal for skin care!), fiber, and micro nutrients. They’re healthy for the blood. If your blood lacks redness, or if you have low-blood pressure, make sweet potato leaves a regular salad side dish. If you often lack sleep, eat them often. They’re also so good for remedying constipation. You wanna loose weight? The leaves of sweet potato are ideal. And it’s cheap. Overall, people in Asia with weak bodies and ill health are encouraged to often eat this herbal veggie. It improves health in many ways.
Super Talbos Tea
Preparing the leaves for salad is easy. Simply steam them over very minimal amount of water. Once the pot releases steam, turn off the fire. The leaves are ready. Because steaming them must take only a few seconds, make sure you wash the leaves thoroughly.
Now, don’t throw the boiled water away. It’s good as tea. Pour into a cup and drink it while hot. Talbos tea is an energy booster and good for easing cold and flu. Better if you squeeze in a slice of lemon or kalamansi. If you need to do overtime work and stay awake, try talbos tea.
Moreover, more and more people in Manila swear that the brew can lower high body temperature during flu or high fever. There had been reports that people with Dengue (mosquito induced fatal high fever) whose blood platelets had fallen to dangerously low levels were normalized by drinking lots of the brew. Well, such claims have never been validated medically, and this needs serious scientific study. However, trying talbos tea during high fevers won’t hurt.
A Veggie Dish
This leaf is quite versatile. It can be mixed in soup dishes, served solo as a viand, or as a side dish for fried or grilled meats or fish. Mix the cut leaves into tenderized pork or fish soup dishes while boiling. Or, steam them and sprinkle some vinegar and salt with sliced onion and tomato toppings. To serve potato leaves as a solo dish, sauté with some garlic, onions, and some drops of soy sauce. Top with thinly sliced egg.