This week's book giveaway is in the OCAJP forum. We're giving away four copies of OCA Java SE 8 Programmer I Study Guide 1Z0-808 and have Jeanne Boyarsky & Scott Selikoff on-line! See this thread for details.
Custom Tags are more advanced and flexible than standard jsp tags, such as <jsp:useBean ../> Custom tag libraries make it possible to create business logic that is almost completely hidden from the presentation layer.
Beans, however, can also make for a cleaner, less cluttered JSP page. For example, a bean's properties can be automatically set by parameter values from a client request. Beans also have scope, which means they can be used per request, between pages, per session, or even throughout an entire application.
As far as which is better... well that depends on what you would like to do. Both beans and custom tags have their place in jsp.
“Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning.” - Rich Cook