The study systematically investigated free, conjugate and total phenolics (phenolic acids and flavonoids) in leaves of 19 Chinese and one American sweetpotato cultivars grown in China. Three extraction/hydrolytic methods (direct extraction and acidic and basic hydrolysis) for sample preparation were employed to obtain different forms of phenolics. Twenty-nine phenolics were separated and identified using HPLC-DAD and HPLC-ESI-MS/MS. Three quercetin glycosides were characterised for the first time from this plant. Contents of the principal phenolics identified were determined by the HPLC-DAD procedure, which was validated in terms of linearity, precision, accuracy and limit of detection and quantification. Moreover, to the best of our knowledge, it is the first to reveal and demonstrate artifacts of esterification during acidic methanolic and ethanolic hydrolysis, and chromatographic behaviours, UV spectra and MS data of 20 hydroxycinnamic acid methyl and ethyl esters were obtained using acidic methanolic and ethanolic hydrolysis.