Klabo Herb

We call this plant klabo and sometimes oregano. The search engines however were suggesting the word kalabo instead. Maybe it is the term in other places. Whatever!

fresh klabo leaves

The term oregano brought me confusion when I was working for university as Research and Development Staff. When my colleague talked about it, I was thinking of broad and thick leaf stuff. Hairy appearance. Strong and slightly disagreeable odor that gets stronger once crushed. When I looked at it, what I saw were plants with numerous small leaves. Thin and tiny leaves, about 1/10 of what I expected.

According to nursery in-charge, the herb primary use is in culinary. Several months later, I was seeing the very herb in some specialty restaurants. They were literally placing the fresh herb on top of drinks and variety of dishes. Generally not acceptable to me when eaten as is. It adds excitement to other foods however.

Drying the leaves is pretty easy. You can find it in supermarkets and online shops. Not in small groceries though. The plant is easy reproduce and grow. If you have a small space and loves gardening, buying and growing the plant is a better option. Fresh is better than dried. Drying process drives away considerable flavors.

For this article sake, let us call this klabo, Coleus amboinicus Lour. The other with numerous tiny leaves as “oregano”, Origanum vulgare.


The plant has been a part of my life since childhood. Whenever someone in the house caught a cold and cough, mother was immediately picking some leaves. Brought them to boil, then make us drink it. Not only that, anyone who had fever was not allowed to bath with plain water. Boiled klabo and sambong leaves were a must for taking shower. I have not experienced bathing in milk yet. With klabo solution, I got countless.

How can I forget its odor. Mother almost always have it in her front yard. Whenever it dies, which is very unlikely, she is on the hunt for replacement. They still drink its solution whenever someone has cough and colds. Bathing with it was stopped a long time though. As for me, my wife and kids, water therapy is the best solution.

I am cutting on coffee. That was why I resorted to coffee husk and cacao shells lately. Klabo tea for a change.

Note: Tea comes from a tea plant. Other plant leaves (sometimes roots and barks) that are prepared in the same way as tea are also called tea for the purpose of marketing and familiarization.

This was the klabo tea I prepared and drank this morning. I never expected anything good at it. Still as bad tasting as before.

kalabo in hot glass of water

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

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