Herbs: Either fresh or dried finely chopped herbs can be used. Use of one pint of menstruum to two ounces of dried herbs, or about two handfuls of fresh.
The important thing is to completely cover the herbs, leaving a couple of extra inches of liquid about the herbs to allow for swelling as the herbs absorb the liquid. Leave some headroom in the jar. If using vinegar, warm first before pouring it over the herbs.
Procedure for making an easy tincture:
1. Place chopped herbs in a glass jar, labeled with the current date and name of the herb
2. Add sufficient liquid menstruum/medium to completely cover the herb
3. Cap with a tight fitting lid, put the jar in a dark place at room temperature, and shake at least once daily.
4. After 4 to 6 weeks, strain the contents through several layers of cheesecloth, if needed. Roots don't usually need any type of filter.
5. Store in a labeled, amber glass bottle away from light and heat.
For stronger tinctures a suggested time can be 4 to 6 weeks. The duration depends on the mixture and on your patience, in time you will develop your own style. I keep mine out on a counter, but not in direct sunlight so I don't forget the shake the jars twice daily. Tinctures will keep for years! Only 3 drops is equal to a cup of herbal tea, it's that potent. The recommended dosage is anywhere from 20-60 drops 3x/day.
Alcohol has mostly displaced vinegar as a menstruum for making liquid herbal extracts/tinctures, as it is far more efficient in extracting and preserving the medicinal properties of herbs. Vinegar is however passable medium and useful in cases where you wish to avoid alcohol. When used in conjunction with alcohol, vinegar can sometimes assist in the extraction of alkaloid (base) substances from herbs. Such an extract containing both vinegar and alcohol is known as an acetous tincture. IMHO, alcohol is just a better medium.
Commercial Herbal Extracts: It is important to understand the labels on commercial extracts. The information should always include the ratio of herb to the medium, the percent of alcohol content along with a complete list of ingredients, and instructions for storage and use. This is not a place you want to shop for bargins. Only buy proven brands you trust.
Strength is expressed in a ratio. Preserving the full range of medicinal properties often depends on using fresh plant material. Extracts made from fresh herbs generally use equal parts of plant matter to solvent, resulting in a ratio of 1:1. Dried herbs are more concentrated and the ratios range from 1:2 to 1:4.