without extracting at all? I think you have to extract them to some extent, but you don't have to extract them to disk. The -O flag should extract them to stdout, which you could then pipe to your zgrep...so something like
tar xvf <your.tar.file> -O | zgrep <yourpattern>
There are only two hard things in computer science: cache invalidation, naming things, and off-by-one errors
A ZIP file as Windows people know them is both an archive (bundle of files/directories contained within a single file) and a compressed file. That includes the Java jar utility, since a JAR is just a ZIP archive with an extra file or so of meta-data in the archive.
To produce a "zipped tar", though, the process is to first archive everything with tar*, then gzip the archive file which also known as a "tarball". Unlike zip, gzip does not archive, it just crunches a single file.
The convention for such compressed archives is to suffix with with either ".tar.gz" or ".tgz". The gzip utility by default will take a file "f", crunch it down, and replace is with "f.gz"
About the time Linux first began to catch on, some genius realized that they could save some typing by making tar run the gzip (or some other selected) utility against the archive it was working with. That's the "z" option now widely seen in tar commands.
ZIP-style compression distorts the data so much that there's absolutely no way that grep can pattern-match against a gzipped file (whether it's tar'ed or not). Although I think that there is a form of grep that can uncompress on the fly to do comparisons. If not, that's why pipelining is so popular in the Unix world.
Note that the zip utility by default actually strives to obtain maximum compression, but not every compression algorithm is optimal for every file. In fact, choose the wrong algorithm and the "compressed" file can end up larger than the original one! So zip has 4 or 5 different algorithms and it will try them all. You can see this at work if you watch the output from ZIP, since it names which algorithm it decided on as it processes each file. If a file is listed simply as "stored", that means that the best compression for it was no compression at all.
So you can see that zip optimizes compression of each file in a ZIP archive, but tar/zip optimizes compression of the archive as a unit.
* For those who never worked with old time mainframes and minicomputers, "tar" means "tape archive" from back when most data storage was on reels of magnetic tape.
Being persecuted doesn't in any way prove your righteousness or your beliefs. Many people get persecuted because they are repugnant or annoying. Or just because they can be.
There's a way to do it better - find it. -Edison. A better tiny ad: