This is a conglomeration of guides I've read, streamlined and compiled to give the average player a quick level of 300 alchemy (w/maxed trophy!) with a minimal level of cost.
This guide is not the absolutely lowest cost, because then you'd have to switch recipes too often and that's just needless headache, but it is a fairly cheap route. Time is money! Total cost would be in about the 15kpp range.
This guide doesn't require any cheating (except perhaps if you are anal and think that AFK foraging is cheating. I personally do not. I also have yet to see any place where SOE thinks it is either.) All you need is a turbo button or the autofire script. (MQ2 also has a couple autoforaging options.)
First off characters you need:
You need a Shaman alt/bot/main obviously to do Alchemy. Race does not matter. A level 25 you get the opportunity to start training in Alchemy. It used to be level capped, but now if you wanted, you could get to 300 skill at level 25.
I suggest that you level your Shaman to at least get the levels where you can get Alchemy Master AA (AA cost: 3/6/9, required level of 59) and Salvage 3 (AA cast 5/5/5, required level of 60).
Also, you'll want to max out your wisdom. This will just save both time and money in the long run allowing you to get skill ups more often on both successes and fails. It's more difficult to max out wisdom at a lower level, but if you get to around level 50 you should be easily and cheaply able to do so (look for the new Platinum JC and put Round Cut Wolf's Eye Agate in them). If you can't quite max out your wisdom, you'll also be able to make the Elixir of the Avian potion line which will give you more wisdom as you can use higher levels of the potion.
You'll also want to get a Reinforced Medicine Bag. This is a 10 slot, 10% wr bag that is player made with low level tailoring using High Quality Bear Pelts. While you won't need the larger bag for any combines skilling up, you will need it later for combines that require more than 8 slots. But even if you never make one of those combines, it's nice to have the extra two slots for storage while skilling.
After you have attained level 50 in alchemy, you need to head to West Freeport and go talk to Event Coordinator Baublie Diggs and get the Alchemy Trophy task. Here is the link at EQTraders Alchemy Trophy. Once you get the task, you can continue to skill up past 100, but make sure you get the task between skill levels 50 and 100, the task will get more difficult if you don't get it then. However, you can complete it at anytime (although if you don't have an Alchemy geerlok, it would be a good idea to finish it early so you can have it while you skill up.) If you equip the trophy, it will evolve as you do non-trivial combines each evolution will give you better skill modifier, the max skill modifier is 15%. This step is imperative for a serious Alchemists since doing 400+ trivial combine is nearly impossible without a significant mod. (There is a 10% item that drops in VT I believe, but 15% -- or even the 12% level trophy trumps that.) These combines are all storebought but you will need a small amount of pottery skill up to Crude Friable Potion Vial used in one combine. The trivial is 18 and you can skill up to that point just trying to make them without doing any other combines to skill your pottery.
A forager. You can now get foraging skill from any character at level 51 with 3 aa, however I suggest a dedicated foraging class (Druid or Ranger) for skill ups past 243. If you level a druid to 40, they will have 200 foraging skill and the two main ports you will need: Lavastorm Mountains and Dreadlands. If you really wanted to make a go of it, you could get get the foraging skill up AA at 51 (3aa to raise foraging by 50 points) and Nature's Bounty (1aa at 51, 2aa at 53, 3 aa at 55, ranks 4-6 I believe are available in the 70s) that gives a chance to get double forages. While it is possible to raise Alchemy without access to a forager, it takes significant farming. I hate farming. I'd rather just AFK forage while I'm asleep.
Once you have all that you are ready to begin.
Head to the Alchemy room in PoK, all components are sold there.
Alternatively you could do the GoD freebie quest to 54 or the CR quest to (52?) but these aren't really necessary. One advantage to doing the GoD Quest is the ability to do the GoD conversions although there is little use for these except skill ups. It doesn't cost very much to skill to this level anyway, so why bother going all the way to CR?
31 Trivial: distillate of skinspikes I
flamewort leaf X2
primitive potion vial
52 Trivial: distillate of skinspikes II
flamewort leaf x 2
crude potion vial
After these head to WFP and do your Alchemy Trophy. Even if you don't complete it (although that would be a knucklehead thing not to do) make sure you at least get the task at this point before you get to 100 skill!!!
79 Trivial: distillate of skinspikes III
flamewort leaf x 2
rough potion vial
violet tri-tube sap
106 Trivial: distillate of skinspikes IV
sprig of acaana
sprig of comfrey
sprig of flamewort x 2
blue vervain bulb
makeshift potion vial
142 Trivial: distillate of skinspikes V
sprig of acaana
sprig of comfrey
sprig of flamewort x 2
simple potion vial
178 Trivial: distillate of skinspikes VI
flamewort x 2
plain potion vial
210 Trivial: philter of the wolf V
measure of wolf blood
smooth potion vial
You can also get to this point in Abysmal Sea with the following list:
27 Elixir of the Serpentine I
32 Effusion of Saryrn I
45 Elicir of the Serpentine II
50 Elixir of the Beast II
55 Antidote II
95 Effusion of E'ci IV
106 Skinspikes IV
110 Immunization IV
148 Antidote V
156 Tonic of Gelid Affinity II
164 Philter of Faerune
170 Philter of the Wolf IV
210 Philter of the Wolf V
231 Trivial: formed suspension of slime VII
bundle of bitterwood twigs x 2
sprig of angurth
sprig of yellow rheum
smooth formed potion vial (This is a pottery combine, components sold in PoK, trivial 17)
Now you have two real foraging options. (And a couple farming ones.)
If you go the foraging option, which is really the only one I suggest, you'll need to get your forager to a DoN zone and start foraging red cups. This will take you to 255 skill using the level VIII potions.
255 Trivial: distillate of alacrity VIII
Small Vial x 5
(You could make any of the level VIII potions, just using this one as an example.)
Now, you'll notice when foraging in any DoN zone that there is 37 different forages in those zones. So, if you have the patience to wait a week or more then you will finally have enough red cups to manage this. (They also, by the way, drop rarely off many of the DoN mobs.) If you go this route, you'll also be able to get many other decent forages that are useful in other tradeskills, most notably scale ore used in palladium. However, it will take you quite some time to get enough red cups, so the choice is yours whether to move onto the next step or stay with DoN for the time being.
If you do decide to stick with the red cups, here's a hint, figure it out:
Ok now to the end. The level 10 potions requires Nodding Blue Lillies (foraged from Dreadlands, also dropped in Old Sebilis and in some PoP zones.) The forage tables in Dreadlands has much less depth than Broodlands (only 11 items in Dreadlands versus 37 in Broodlands), so skipping to those at 231 will be a viable option. A week of foraging NBL's will get you much further past 255 then trivial for red cups. But you'll get much less success in the early levels (but skills ups are all that count in my book!) Your success rate will be very low 1 in 4-6 combines, but you get 5 potions per successful combine.[The Broodlands]
Pod of Water=keep
Chunk of Ice=keep
Amber Water Worm=destroy
Deep Forest Mushroom=keep
Air-Infused Spring Water=keep
348 Trivial: distillate of alacrity X
Nodding Blue Lily
Small Vial x 5
That will max out your trophy and you'll end up with 345 modded Alchemy skill. Now you can make the neat higher end potions and OoW augs.
Now as for selling back, I generally sell back all of the potions except the level 10s which I use myself. However, you may find that there is a market in your bazaar for the differing level of skinspikes, and being that potions are consumable, as long as you sell them for less than vendors do, you may always have a market. Personally, I think it's small potatoes and don't put such small items on my trader.
The farming options take much more effort, but if you must go that route then farming Deepwater Inks in Siren's Grotto is your best bet.
<-- Red Cent me, I want to get Monty Python bobblehead dolls! $$