A tincture is a herbal extract of a certain strength. A tincture made from dry plant material is commonly a 1 to 5 ratio of plant by weight to extracting liquid by volume. Tinctures made from fresh, undried plant material are usually 1 to 2 ratio. The constituents of the plant are usually extracted with a solvent that is a mixture of alcohol and water, although glycerine or vinegar are sometime used. Some constituents are water soluble and some are only alcohol soluble. Unfortunately, alcohol is by far the best extractor we have for most plants.
Most people prefer to take their tincture in a small amount of water, tea, or juice. Most tinctures taste terrible and are much easier on the palette if diluted. If put in hot water and steeped for five minutes or so, much of the alcohol will dissipate. Putting the drops under the tongue is the quickest way to get herbs into the system.