tar and zip perform similar functions. tar has been the default method of archiving in linux forever.
tar, by itself, does not have compression, however you may select a number of compression methods when you make the archive.
The general syntax for tar is
tar archive_name file_to_archive
tar archive_name directory_to_archive
You may specify a method of compression
-a = will determine method from the suffex you give the archive
-j = bzip2
-J = xz
-z = gzip
-p = preserve permissions
-c = create an archive
-x = extract the archive
-C = specify a destination for extracted files
-t = list the contents
The major advantage of tar over zip is that it preserves linux permissions.
That is just a brief review of the basic options, you can add or remove files from the archive an all sorts of things.
see man tar or any of the online tutorials for options.